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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!

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

Jason Davis • July 07, 2015

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.

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.

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.

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

Emily Lakdawalla • June 24, 2015

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.

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

Emily Lakdawalla • June 23, 2015

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.

Pluto and Charon spin among the stars

Emily Lakdawalla • June 16, 2015

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.

Telling Pluto’s Story, One Fragment at a Time

Mark Showalter • June 11, 2015

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

An enigmatic line across Pluto: Plutonian canali!?

Emily Lakdawalla • June 09, 2015

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!

A (very) few more details on Pluto

Emily Lakdawalla • June 01, 2015

Last week the New Horizons mission released a few new processed versions of their latest and greatest images of Pluto. They're the best images of Pluto that Earth has ever seen, but they're still a long way from what New Horizons will be able to show us, six weeks from now.

Two Months from Pluto!

Paul Schenk • May 19, 2015

Two months. Eight and half weeks. 58 days. It's a concept almost too difficult to grasp: we are on Pluto's doorstep.

New Horizons spots Kerberos and Styx

Emily Lakdawalla • May 12, 2015

New Horizons has now spotted every one of Pluto's satellites...all the ones we know about, that is.

New Horizons sees surface features on Pluto, begins raw image release

Emily Lakdawalla • April 29, 2015

Today the New Horizons team released a new animation of images taken on approach to Pluto. The animation clearly shows how Pluto wobbles around the Pluto-Charon barycenter. It also shows something more exciting to the scientists: variations in brightness across the surface of Pluto. They also began releasing raw images to the Internet.

What Color Does the Internet Think Pluto Is?

Alex Parker • April 20, 2015

Astronomers have known for a long time that Pluto’s surface is reddish, so where did the common idea that Pluto is blue come from?

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