When the New Horizons spacecraft was launched on Jan. 19, 2006, the NASA press release said it was “headed for a distant rendezvous with the mysterious planet Pluto almost a decade from now.”
But even travelling at nearly 16 kilometres per second, the space craft will never reach its initial goal – Pluto lost its planetary status in August 2006. However, it is considered a keystone object in the Kuiper belt.
At the next Café Scientifique event JJ Kavelaars of the National Research Council of Canada’s Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics and the University of Victoria’s physics and astronomy department will lead an informal discussion on what we know about the belt, what scientists are hoping to learn from New Horizons and what might have triggered the emergence of life on Earth.
The last planet in the solar system: visiting Pluto starts at 7 p.m. on May 8 at the Solstice Café, 529 Pandora Ave.
The talk is free and open to the public.