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The Bruce Murray Space Image Library

Simulation of the New Horizons Pluto flyby LORRI data set

Filed under trans-neptunian objects, New Horizons, pretty pictures, Pluto, scale comparisons, amateur image processing, Charon, presentation slides, dwarf planets beyond Neptune

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Simulation of the New Horizons Pluto flyby LORRI data set In the two weeks surrounding New Horizons' flyby of Pluto, only 1% of the science data that it acquires will be downlinked to Earth. This chart uses Voyager images of Jupiter's and Saturn's moons to stand in for the images that New Horizons' highest-resolution camera, LORRI, is expected to downlink in the summer of 2015. Visit for futher explanation.

Voyager images: NASA/JPL. Chart by Emily Lakdawalla.

In this comparison, Jupiter's moon Ganymede stands in for Pluto. Ganymede was chosen because it has a high-contrast surface, like Pluto. Saturn's moons Tethys and Rhea stand in for Charon, which has a lower-contrast surface. Saturn's moons Janus and Hyperion stand in for Nix and Hydra, respectively.

The full-disk images have been resized so that their disks span a similar number of pixels to the expected LORRI images of Pluto, Charon, Nix, and Hydra when the image is displayed at its full resolution.

The images in which Ganymede and Rhea, standing in for Pluto and Charon, more than fill the frame have not been resized to simulate the exact resolutions of the LORRI image mosaics; they are meant to represent the kinds of images we can expect to see in terms of how much of the frame they fill, but Pluto and Charon are expected to look quite different from this when New Horizons sees them up close, so there was no point in attempting such precision.

Original image data dated on or about June 23, 2015.

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cottersay: 07/20/2015 09:27 CDT

I look on and every day looking for new Pluto pictures, but they both do not have these pictures you just posted (in fact, they hardly have ANY up-close Pluto images). Is this from the High Priority G download? I wonder why the official New Horizon website does not yet post them?? (9:25PM Central, 7/20/15) Thanks for the great pics!

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