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New Horizons extended mission target selected

Emily Lakdawalla and Casey Dreier • September 01, 2015

The New Horizons mission has formally selected its next target after Pluto: a tiny, dim, frozen world currently named 2014 MU69. The spacecraft will perform a series of four rocket firings in October and November to angle its trajectory to pass close by 2014 MU69 in early January 2019. In so doing, New Horizons will become the first flyby craft to pass by a target that was not discovered before the spacecraft launched.

Three space fan visualizations of New Horizons' Pluto-Charon flyby

Emily Lakdawalla • August 25, 2015

It has been a difficult wait for new New Horizons images, but the wait is almost over; Alan Stern announced at today's Outer Planets Advisory Group meeting that image downlink will resume September 5. In the meantime, a few space fans are making the most of the small amount of data that has been returned to date.

New Robotic Spacecraft Posters

Bill Dunford • August 06, 2015

Another round of posters to celebrate historic planetary missions.

Looking back at Pluto

Emily Lakdawalla • July 24, 2015

I don't think anyone was prepared for the beauty -- or the instant scientific discoveries -- in this "lookback" image of Pluto, captured by New Horizons shortly after it flew by.

What in the world(s) are tholins?

Sarah Hörst • July 22, 2015

The question “why is Pluto red” has been answered with a word that most people have never heard of and perhaps even fewer people can actually define—“tholins”.

New Horizons encounter plus one week: Weird and wonderful images from the Pluto system

Emily Lakdawalla • July 21, 2015

So many new image goodies from the Pluto system!

New Horizons: Awaiting the data

Emily Lakdawalla • July 19, 2015

New Horizons' encounter and data downlinks have been going exactly as planned, but the raw image website has not been updated for many days. What's going on? I found out.

Latest New Horizons picture of Charon: oddly familiar

Emily Lakdawalla • July 16, 2015

The New Horizons team released one more picture from Tuesday's encounter, one of three high-resolution images from a mosaic that crossed the center of Charon's disk, and it took me a while to figure out what it reminded me of.

First look at New Horizons' Pluto and Charon images: "baffling in a very interesting and wonderful way"

Emily Lakdawalla • July 15, 2015

Today's press briefing at the Applied Physics Laboratory in California was preceded by hours of New Horizons team members cryptically dropping hints on Twitter at astonishing details in the seven images downlinked since the flyby. The images are, in fact, astonishing, as well as beautiful, surprising, and puzzling.

New Horizons "phones home" after Pluto flyby

Emily Lakdawalla • July 14, 2015

After a wait of more than 22 hours with no communication, New Horizons "phoned home" precisely on schedule after its flyby of Pluto. The signal was received at 00:52:37 UT | 20:52:37 ET | 17:52:37 PT. As planned, New Horizons returned no images with the Phone Home downlink. But every bit of telemetry indicated that the flyby executed successfully.

The not-planets

Emily Lakdawalla • July 14, 2015

Now that I have a reasonable-resolution global color view of Pluto, I can drop it into one of my trademark scale image montages, to show you how it fits in with the rest of the similar-sized worlds in the solar system: the major moons and the biggest asteroids.

Pluto minus one day: Very first New Horizons Pluto encounter science results

Emily Lakdawalla • July 13, 2015

At a press briefing this morning, New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern divulged some extremely preliminary first science results from the New Horizons Pluto encounter. Science results include Pluto's diameter and information on its surface composition and atmospheric escape.

Zooming in to Pluto and Charon

Emily Lakdawalla • July 12, 2015

In the span of a few days, Pluto and Charon have turned from spots into worlds. The latest images from New Horizons are showing Pluto and Charon to have unique faces, distinct from any other icy worlds in the solar system.

Explore Pluto in Google Earth!

Alex Parker • July 08, 2015

The Pluto encounter team is producing the first maps of Pluto using images collected by New Horizons. You can now easily download the map and explore the best Pluto maps ever made!

New Horizons is a Triumph for Space Advocates

Casey Dreier • July 07, 2015

New Horizons—what will be NASA’s greatest success of 2015—was cancelled multiple times in its early life, and many times before that in its previous incarnations. A mission to Pluto was not inevitable, despite the overwhelming scientific and public excitement.

Opening the New Horizons Time Capsule

Bruce Betts • July 07, 2015

The New Horizons digital time capsule is opened, with the New Horizons Pluto flyby only one week away, showing images from Earth 2006 – the year New Horizons launched. Fifty images and captions from people in 17 countries were selected to be in the time capsule to reflect things expected to change by 2015.

New Horizons "back in action" after safe mode event, ready to resume encounter science

Emily Lakdawalla • July 06, 2015

NASA held a press briefing today to explain the nature and cause of the spacecraft anomaly that halted science on New Horizons for four days as it was on its terminal approach to Pluto. As of the moment that I write this post, New Horizons is not yet performing science observations, but it will resume them tomorrow, July 7.

New Horizons enters safe mode 10 days before Pluto flyby [UPDATED]

Emily Lakdawalla • July 05, 2015

New Horizons decided to put on a little 4th of July drama for the mission's fans. It's currently in safe mode, and it will likely be a day or two before it recovers and returns to science, but it remains on course for the July 14 flyby. Here's the mission update in its entirety.
[UPDATE]: Normal operations are planned to resume July 7.

Pluto's progression: Third-to-last Pluto day before encounter

Emily Lakdawalla • July 03, 2015

Only two days remain until New Horizons' historic encounter with Pluto....two Pluto days, that is. Pluto and Charon rotate together once every 6.4 days, so as New Horizons has approached the pair over the last week, we've been treated to one stately progression of all of their longitudes.

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