Throwback Thursday: Reaching Pluto (Synopsis)

“Even in hindsight, I would not change one whit of the Voyager experience. Dreams and sweat carried it off. But most of all, its legacy makes us all Earth travelers among the stars.” –Charley Kohlhase

It’s a taxing enough task to launch something off the surface of the Earth, escaping our planet’s gravity and finding our way into interplanetary space.

Image credit: Delta II rocket launch, public domain, via http://www.gps.gov/.
Image credit: Delta II rocket launch, public domain, via http://www.gps.gov/.

But to reach the outer Solar System? To go beyond the gas giants and even escape from our Sun’s pull completely? We need a little help to do that. Thankfully, the biggest planet in our Solar System is always ready to lend a helping hand. Or, as it were, an assist of a very particular type: a gravity assist.

Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Cassini Mission.
Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Cassini Mission.

Come and find out how we made it to Pluto in record time, and how we could do it again thanks to plain old Newton’s gravity!