Stories, updates, insights, and original analysis from The Planetary Society.
New Horizons has begun the long process of downlinking all the images it acquired during its July Pluto flyby.
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.
Another round of posters to celebrate historic planetary missions.
I don't think anyone was prepared for the beauty -- or the instant scientific discoveries -- in this
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”.
So many new image goodies from the Pluto system!
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.
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.
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.
Feast your eyes upon it!
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.
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.
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!
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—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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.