Keith's note: In October NASA SMD PAO was caught totally off guard when the New Horizons team announced that debris in the vicinity of Pluto might force them to "bail out" (their term) of the original encounter. I submitted the following questions to NASA SMD PAO on 16 October and was told that a reply was being prepared. It has been 2 1/2 months and I still haven't heard anything back from them. My questions:
"- Will there be a formal statement from NASA regarding debris issues in the vicinity of Pluto and how it will affect mission plans?
- Will NASA be spending additional funds for additional telescope observations of Pluto? If so how much will these observations cost, what budget pays these costs, what telescopes/spacecraft will be used, and how long will these observations be conducted?
- When will contingency plans for changing the trajectory of New Horizons at Pluto be finalized?
- Who (Individual, agency) makes the final decision as to whether New Horizons continues on its original trajectory or if that trajectory is modified?
- When was NASA notified by New Horizons mission team that the original flight trajectory was in jeopardy due to debris concerns?"
Will NASA Have To 'Bail Out' On Close Pluto Encounter?, earlier post