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Blog Archive

 

Looking back at Pluto

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/24 07:12 CDT | 16 comments

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.

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What in the world(s) are tholins?

Posted by Sarah Hörst on 2015/07/22 07:00 CDT | 9 comments

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”.

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

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/21 06:39 CDT | 23 comments

So many new image goodies from the Pluto system!

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New Horizons: Awaiting the data

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/19 11:21 CDT | 31 comments

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.

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

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/15 04:42 CDT | 32 comments

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.

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The not-planets

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/14 12:48 CDT | 36 comments

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.

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New Horizons' best look at Pluto before close approach

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/14 08:12 CDT | 27 comments

Feast your eyes upon it!

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

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/13 12:16 CDT | 15 comments

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.

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Zooming in to Pluto and Charon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/12 07:31 CDT | 9 comments

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.

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Explore Pluto in Google Earth!

Posted by Alex Parker on 2015/07/08 01:38 CDT | 3 comments

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!

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Pushing Back the Frontier: How The Planetary Society Helped Send a Spacecraft to Pluto

Posted by Jason Davis on 2015/07/07 03:44 CDT | 5 comments

It took 16 years and five spacecraft designs to get a mission to Pluto. The Planetary Society was there through it all, always striving to help NASA push back our solar system's frontier.

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New Horizons is a Triumph for Space Advocates
And Europa will be the same

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2015/07/07 03:40 CDT | 5 comments

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.

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Opening the New Horizons Time Capsule

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2015/07/07 10:03 CDT | 2 comments

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.

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

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/06 04:12 CDT | 10 comments

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.

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

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/03 08:49 CDT | 6 comments

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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What to expect when you're expecting a flyby: Planning your July around New Horizons' Pluto Pictures (version 2)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/06/24 07:57 CDT | 22 comments

Three months ago, I posted an article explaining what to expect during the flyby. This is a revised version of the same post, with some errors corrected, the expected sizes of Nix and Hydra updated, and times of press briefings added.

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New Horizons update: Resolving features on Charon and seeing in color

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/06/23 11:02 CDT | 13 comments

Only about three weeks remain until the flyby -- it's getting really close! I almost don't want the anticipation to end. New Horizons is now getting color images and is seeing features on Charon. Deep searches have yielded no new moons.

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Pluto and Charon spin among the stars

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/06/16 08:10 CDT | 7 comments

I've spent a happy couple of days playing with raw data downloaded from the New Horizons website, making animations of the dances of Pluto and Charon.

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Telling Pluto’s Story, One Fragment at a Time

Posted by Mark Showalter on 2015/06/11 04:29 CDT | 2 comments

Mark Showalter explains how determining basic information about Pluto's small moons—Kerberos and Styx—is more complicated than initially thought.

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An enigmatic line across Pluto: Plutonian canali!?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/06/09 07:03 CDT | 17 comments

Pluto and Charon are growing larger in New Horizons' forward view, beginning to develop distinct personalities. A version of recent New Horizons photos processed by Björn Jónsson reveals an enigmatic dark line. Our maps of Pluto's surface are now as good as our maps of Mars and Venus, circa 1900!

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