Simulation of New Horizons arrival day at Pluto

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tony873004

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Pluto, Charon, Hydra, Nix, Kerberos and Styx rapidly grow larger as New Horizons approaches, and then passes through the system. It then proceeds to pass through the umbra shadows of both Pluto and Charon so scientists can study their atmospheres.

In this simulation, you can control the speed and direction of time with the Time Step interface. Press "L" on your keyboard to identify the moons.

http://orbitsimulator.com/BA/New_Horizons_Pluto_Flyby2.html
 
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Interesting, thanks.

How accurate is the simulation? Will the spacecraft see Pluto directly in front of Charon (July 14, 11:40)?
 

tony873004

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The starting conditions are from JPL Horizons. The NH team is currently scanning for hazards such as undiscovered moons or rings. They have a few backup trajectories just in case they find something that makes this trajectory dangerous. So unless they change course, yes, Pluto will pass in front of Charon. I don't think that's what they were after through. There was some discussion recently that Pluto and Charon share an extended atmosphere. Notice that this trajectory causes them to pass through Pluto's umbra, then it gets a backlit view of any extended atmosphere before passing through Charon's umbra. The size of the Sun is exaggerated in the sim to keep it from looking like a background star.
 

tony873004

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http://orbitsimulator.com/BA/rgs.html
This is a new version of the simulation. It will run on your computer in real time, so you can have a visual reference to follow on encounter day.

I've updated New Horizon's trajectory. It looks now like they're going for a graze of the Sun as NH passes through the umbras of Pluto and Charon. Makes sense. This extends the time the Sun is a useful distance below the limb. The Sun is heavily exaggerated in size, so what looks like a miss is actually a hit.
 

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[Mod hat]

I moved recent posts on the actual flyby of Pluto by the New Horizons spacecraft to a thread of its own, New Horizons flyby of Pluto. Please keep this thread to discussions on simulations of the flyby. Use the other thread to discuss the flyby itself.
 

tony873004

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The next target has been chosen. 2014 MU69 will be visited in January 2019.
http://orbitsimulator.com/BA/afterPluto.gif
 
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You can follow New Horizons up to the 1000th century.
 

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