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Pluto on the Eve of Exploration by New Horizons: Small moons, dust, surfaces, interiors

Emily Lakdawalla • July 24, 2013

My roundup from notes on the day's presentations on dust in the Pluto system and the surfaces and interiors of Pluto and Charon.

Pluto on the Eve of New Horizons: Webcast tonight

Emily Lakdawalla • July 23, 2013

I'm off for the airport to fly to the East Coast to participate in the scientific conference "The Pluto System on the Eve of Exploration by New Horizons."

Remembering the Pluto Campaign: A Success Story

Casey Dreier • July 22, 2013

The New Horizons mission to Pluto survived many near-death encounters with cancellation during its development. The Planetary Society worked the whole time to ensure it would launch.

New names for Pluto's little moons Kerberos and Styx; and a new moon for Neptune

Emily Lakdawalla • July 15, 2013

Pluto's moons, formerly known as "P4" and "P5," are now named Kerberos and Styx; I thought I'd help place them into context with a little help from Cassini. Also, Neptune now has a 14th known moon.

Great News: New Horizons to "stay the course" at Pluto

Emily Lakdawalla • June 17, 2013

This is extremely good news: after more than a year of analysis, the New Horizons mission and NASA have concluded and agreed that New Horizons' originally-planned trajectory past Pluto is likely safe from dust.

New Horizons: Encounter Planning Accelerates

Alan Stern • May 17, 2013

Back in 2005 and 2006, when Pluto’s second and third moons (Nix and Hydra) were discovered, searches by astronomers for still more moons didn’t reveal any. So the accidental discovery of Pluto’s fourth moon by the Hubble Space Telescope in mid-2011 raised the possibility that the hazards in the Pluto system might be greater than previously anticipated.

Pluto's seasons and what New Horizons may find when it passes by

Emily Lakdawalla • May 02, 2013

New Horizons might see a Pluto with a northern polar cap, a southern polar cap, or both caps, according to work by Leslie Young.

2011 HM102: A new companion for Neptune

Alex Parker • April 30, 2013

This month my latest paper made it to print in the Astronomical Journal. It's a short piece that describes a serendipitous discovery that my collaborators and I made while searching for a distant Kuiper Belt Object for the New Horizons spacecraft to visit after its 2015 Pluto flyby.

When will New Horizons have better views of Pluto than Hubble does?

Emily Lakdawalla • February 18, 2013

Last week, I posted an explainer on why Hubble's images of galaxies show so much more detail than its images of Pluto. Then I set you all a homework problem: when will New Horizons be able to see Pluto better than Hubble does? Here's the answer.

Why can Hubble get detailed views of distant galaxies but not of Pluto?

Emily Lakdawalla • February 14, 2013

How come Hubble's pictures of galaxies billions of light years away are so beautifully detailed, yet the pictures of Pluto, which is so much closer, are just little blobs? I get asked this question, or variations of it, a lot. Here's an explainer.

Kuiper Belt Objects Submitted to Minor Planet Center

Alex Parker • January 25, 2013

Recently, several of the Kuiper Belt Objects our team has discovered while searching for New Horizons post-Pluto flyby candidates have been submitted to the Minor Planet Center and their orbital information is now in the public domain.

Alan Stern Returns to Planetary Radio

Mat Kaplan • November 27, 2012

The New Horizons Pluto mission PI provides an update, and introduces his new public project called Uwingu.

Citizen "Ice Hunters" help find a Neptune Trojan target for New Horizons

Alex Parker • October 09, 2012

2011 HM102 is an L5 Neptune Trojan, trailing Neptune by approximately 60 degrees. This object was discovered in the search for a New Horizons post-Pluto encounter object in the Kuiper Belt.

What's up in the Solar System in August 2012

Jason Davis • August 03, 2012

Welcome to the monthly roundup of our solar system's envoy of electronic explorers! All eyes are on Curiosity as it approaches Mars this weekend. Who will lend support at the Red Planet?

A fifth moon for Pluto, and a possible hazard for New Horizons

Emily Lakdawalla • July 16, 2012

Pluto is now known to have at least five moons (Charon, Nix, Hydra, P4, and the newly discovered P5), and its burgeoning population might pose a risk to New Horizons during its flyby, three years from now.

Put New Horizons on a stamp

Emily Lakdawalla • February 09, 2012

A week ago, the New Horizons team announced an effort to gather signatures in support of a petition to the U.S. Postal Service to commemorate the historic flyby of Pluto on a stamp.

New Horizons Day 2: Liquids on Pluto's surface?

Emily Lakdawalla • September 13, 2011

Jeff Moore's presentation was cool because of the discussion it stimulated. He considered what exogenic processes might be operating on Pluto's surface. What's an exogenic process? It's something that modifies the shape of the surface from the outside, and doesn't require the body to be geologically active inside.

New Horizons Day 2: Tectonic features on icy worlds

Emily Lakdawalla • September 09, 2011

The second day of the New Horizons Workshop on Icy Surface Processes was about geology and geophysics. This long post just covers the first talk of that day.

New Horizons workshop, day 1: Chemistry & climate on Pluto & other cold places

Emily Lakdawalla • August 30, 2011

Today and tomorrow I'm attending the New Horizons Workshop on Icy Surface Processes. The first day was all about the composition of the surface and atmosphere of Pluto, Charon, Triton, and other distant places.

The most exciting citizen science project ever (to me, anyway)

Emily Lakdawalla • June 21, 2011

A guest blogger here recently rounded up the large number of participatory research projects that are collectively known as citizen science. I think these are all very cool and I encourage you to check them out but none of them has yet inspired me to spend my precious time as grunt labor on a gigantic collective project. Until now.

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