Target: Grades 6-10
Length: 53 minutes 3 seconds
Guide: Passport to Knowledge
P.O. Box 1587
Morristown, NJ, 07962-1587
Phone: (973) 656-9403
Internet: http://passporttoknowledge.com →
NASA's New Horizon's mission to Pluto is set to launch starting January 17, 2006. PASSPORT TO PLUTO goes behind the scenes to show the development and testing of the spacecraft, and the hard work of the scientists, engineers and support staff who've worked for decades to make the mission possible. New Horizons will be the fastest spacecraft ever launched from Earth, on board America's most powerful rocket, and will be traveling the farthest distance to begin its primary mission of any NASA spacecraft. If all goes well it will reach Pluto and its giant moon, Charon -- some 3 billion miles from Earth! -- as early as 2015, and then travel on out into the Kuiper Belt, a previously unexplored region of the solar system, populated by "ice dwarf" worlds completely unlike the terrestrial and gas giant planets known through previous missions.
Participants in the program include principal investigator, Alan Stern, project scientists Hal Weaver and Leslie Young, as well as project manager Glen Fountain and members of the science team and mission operations teams. Highly-realistic mission animations created by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and visualizations of Pluto, Charon and the Kuiper Belt from some of Earth's leading space artists bring the mission and its science objectives to life. The history of the discovery of Pluto and Charon, from Clyde Tombaugh in 1930 to the recent finding of a "tenth planet" by Caltech's Mike Brown, and two new moons around Pluto (by Stern and Weaver in 2005), introduces key facts about the size, mass and orbit of Pluto. With footage as recent as the December 17 transfer of the spacecraft out to launch pad 41 at Cape Canaveral, PASSPORT TO PLUTO is a comprehensive overview of one of the most unique and exciting missions of the Space Age.