With the New Horizons probe just hours away from sending back pictures from its closest approach to Pluto, there’s no better time to start thinking about what it’s going to be like to drive there. Sure, it may be a ‘dwarf planet’ but it’s hot right now and the King of America is about to annex it. That means we’re just about ready to build Plutionian Racetracks! So how will our cars do?
A question as important as this is probably best answered in goofy internet infographic format. I’ll show the numbers and data I’m using to make my estimates, and show three different cars, from the low, medium, and high performance categories.
Of course, the cars would need some pretty extensive modifications, the rough and likely methane-icy terrain will likely make driving difficult, and it’s likely if you try this anytime soon it’ll be the last thing you ever do, but still, I’m sure this is information you’ll want to know.
Is power-to-weight the best metric to use? Maybe not, but with 1/12th gravity, it’s the most fun.
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With that in mind, enjoy!
UPDATE: While this was a fun chart to make, I made a critical and common error: I equated weight with mass. The reality is that there’d be less traction to use to move the same total mass, so the reality is less rosy, speed-wise. I’ll take this as a lesson and start consulting real physicists to write up a follow-up explainer so no one has to look like as big an ass as me.
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