The amazing New Horizons space venture of nine and a half years came to a rapid climax this week. And I do mean rapid! This mighty mite voyager, the size of a grand piano, left the launch pad January 2006 (when Twitter was started), blistered past our moon in the record time of nine hours at speeds exceeding 35,000 mph, the fastest spacecraft ever deployed. It whizzed past Jupiter a year later as the first iPhone was launched on Earth. Destination – Pluto.
Pluto was discovered by astronomer Clyde Tombaugh in 1930. He would surely be amazed that some of his ashes are on New Horizons. The container has the inscription,“Interred herein are remains of American Clyde W. Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto and the solar system’s ‘third zone’. Adelle and Muron’s boy, Patricia’s husband, Annette and Alden’s father, astronomer, teacher, punster, and friend: Clyde W. Tombaugh (1906–1997).”
He will be the first human to leave our solar system as the probe continues its mission.
For almost a decade New Horizons has been plodding along at a staggering million miles per day clip to span the 3.6 billion mile trip to Pluto, the disputed ninth planet of our solar system. It arrived at the Pluto system, which includes five moons, right on schedule, negotiating a 200 mile target window at over 31,000 miles per hour as the fly-by photo shoot began.
Because the spacecraft was traveling at such a high rate of speed, landing would be impossible and a fly-by of less than two hours would be the only opportunity to collect the treasured data.
This was an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as Pluto was the closest in its orbit to our sun on July 14, 2015. Its giant elliptical orbit carries it five billion miles away at its furthest point and takes 248 years to circle the sun one time.
The technology is certainly amazing as NASA has been in communication with the spacecraft for nine and a half years, guiding, tweaking and tracking the progress. At launch the exact rendezvous point was not determined because there simply had not been enough information concerning the complete orbit of Pluto. This was not computed until 2012, when it became a concern that Pluto may be missed altogether.
It takes four and a half hours for the signal from Mission Control to reach New Horizons. Then it requires several days for the onboard computers to process that information and make the corrections. So changes and upgrade commands cannot be given less than a week before the required action is to take place.
Pluto is not New Horizons’ final destination. It has now departed this planet and its moons and will enter the Kuiper Belt for much more exploration. The fuel supply is designed to last well into the 2020’s and possibly beyond.
So, taking all of this space vastness and scientific advancement in stride, it is certainly a moment for the NASA team and America ourselves to be proud. Those of us that were fortunate enough to witness the inception of the space program and all of its progress through the years have surely been proud of those accomplishments.
But, let’s change gears – what is the point? Why is so much money spent on these mind blowing events? New Horizons’ price tag is $700 million. We have seen billions of dollars through the years go to the exploration of outer space from the Mercury capsule days with no more electronics onboard than your microwave, to the Gemini and Apollo days of moon landings to the space stations, then to this bold, techno heavy project.
The face of all the projects is glamorous and glitzy and I believe we need to explore the creation. The men and women that are involved as scientists, astronauts and engineers are some of the top minds in our world. Kudos to all of them for their individual achievements.
But look at the overall theme as each mission unfolds these days. What is printed and what is explained in the documentaries is the unrelenting search for how we all got here. Evolutionary speculation and hopefulness abounds as we hear how the planet must have spun off these moons as it was forming hundreds of millions of years ago. But then we hear that Pluto is much younger than originally thought and the information they are receiving is baffling. They are hoping all this data will give insight as to how we arrived on Earth.
Yes, mankind continues trying to force science into proving his own limited, evolutionary worldview, all the while stating and proving the obvious – there is a God and He created all of this and He gives the knowledge to explore it.
One of the leaders of the New Horizons team is quoted, “Just like the old sailors did back in the old days of the sextant…they knew where certain stars were at certain times of the day. Therefore, they knew where they were on the planet. With respect to those stars, we are able to determine where the spacecraft is.”
So, the stars the ancient mariners used are the same stars the intellectually advanced scientists of today use? Something seems fishy here to me! Mr. Scientist, if evolution is what you say and there is no God, then why is all that vast array of starry heavens able to be relied on through the ages to be in the exact same place day after day, guiding ships, airplanes and deep space exploration?
It would be logical that if no intelligent being were holding them in place, the whole thing would be mass chaos. But, that’s just me. What do I know?
Well, I don’t know a lot, but I do know that the Bible has been proven true once again in this technologically driven world. The evolutionists strain at the pesky gnat of hard evidence for intelligent design as they swallow the camel of their self-indulging world view that demands they are right. (Don’t confuse me with the facts, please.)
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…By Him all things were created…He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together…All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.”