Will NASA Ever Launch a Manned Mission to Pluto?

Will NASA Ever Launch a Manned Mission to Pluto?

It was revealed earlier that ammonia-water slurry may swirl below Pluto's icy surface. The dwarf planet has icy surface and atmosphere dominated with nitrogen. But are these enough to make NASA send astronauts to the dwarf planet in the Kuiper belt?

Space community is trying to solve to riddle which could give a foothold to scientists in the deep space regions of the solar system. Gerard van Belle, an astronomer from Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, said, “The notion of a Pluto base figures prominently in the anime ‘Star Blazers’ from my childhood, so it’d be wonderful if there were a good reason for it”.

In July this year, New Horizons spacecraft of NASA zipped past Pluto and collected important information about the dwarf planet. About a month after publishing the first detailed science analysis of the flyby, scientists are currently analyzing data sent by the spacecraft. The data could boost the space agency to send astronaut to icy surface of Pluto.

Will Grundy, head of New Horizons’ surface composition team, said one of the biggest problem in the mission is how far astronauts are from the sun. “In really rough numbers, we get a thousand watts per square meter from the Sun and it’s only one watt per sq. meter at Pluto, so you have to make up the extra 999 watts to keep the temperature comfortable”, Grundy added.

According to Grundy, a planetary scientist at Lowell Observatory, it would not be very difficult to set a base on Pluto, but the main issue will be cold. To make a human mission to possible, there is a need of heat and good insulation.

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