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New Horizons Mission - Pluto + Charon Encounter

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Unobscured Vision    2,676

John Hopkins University - Pluto Mission Site | NASA's New Horizons Mission Portal | New Horizons - Wikipedia Entry

 

post-23589-0-21176100-1436498150.png post-23589-0-12186100-1436498141.png

Images courtesy of Wikimedia - NASA -- Licence Public Domain / Creative Commons

 

No time like the present to start the thread. There will be a trickle of data until the spacecraft finishes uploading the main bulk of it sometime in the middle of August. No worries, though; we'll get plenty of "GQ Shots" to whet our appetites ... such as this one.

 

post-23589-0-14355300-1436498399.png

Image courtesy of John Hopkins University - New Horizons Mission site.

 

Pluto, with a diameter of 2,274 km (1,413 miles) according to the latest data, is composed primarily of various mineral ores (like Mars, Earth, Mercury, etc) with subliminating Methane, Nitrogen, and Carbon Monoxide ices. Fairly expected for a Kuiper Belt object, although the Geology is quite a bit more dense than anticipated. It also has a fairly significant atmosphere, likely of elemental Methane, Nitrogen, and Carbon Monoxide, but almost nothing is known about it other than it is present and it is substantial enough that any probe attempting to land there would need to at least be aware of it (like Mars) and account for it. That data is forthcoming.

 

Charon, at 1,172 km (728 miles), closely resembles Ceres (950 km), but is nearly 20% larger -- comprised of various Ores (49%) and nearly 50% water ice. Ammonia is present as well, in trace amounts, probably from crossing the orbit of Neptune for billions of years.

 

It should be noted that Pluto and Charon are also Tidally Locked with one another. The rotation period of both Pluto and Charon around the Pluto-Charon barycenter (the common point of gravity between the two objects) is 6.4 Earth days, each Pluto "day" is 6.4 Earth days and each Charon "day" is 6.4 Earth days.

 

The other three moons of Pluto (Nix, Hydra, and Styx) are very small, and quite flattened out at their equators (as are a number of other Kuiper Belt objects). They orbit the Pluto-Charon barycenter in a resonance ratio of 18:22:33. I was unable to find any information whether these moons' rotation periods have been determined yet or not.

 

More information and images will be posted to this thread as it is made available. Enjoy!

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sundayx    127

Just to highlight, the closest approach to Pluto is at:

 

Tue, 14 Jul 2015 11:49:57 UTC

 

20:49:57 Tuesday July 14, 2015 in Asia/Tokyo

12:49:57 Tuesday July 14, 2015 in Europe/London

07:49:57 Tuesday July 14, 2015 in US/Eastern

06:49:57 Tuesday July 14, 2015 in US/Central

04:49:57 Tuesday July 14, 2015 in US/Pacific

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Draggendrop    5,747

Mapping of Pluto...not as pretty as the above shot, but a beginning...

 

 

 

This is the latest map of Pluto created from images taken from June 27 to July 3 by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on New Horizons, combined with lower-resolution color data from the spacecraft's Ralph instrument. The center of the map corresponds to the side of Pluto that will be seen close-up during New Horizons' July 14 fly by.

This map gives mission scientists an important tool to decipher the complex and intriguing pattern of bright and dark markings on Pluto's surface. Features from all sides of Pluto can now be seen at a glance and from a consistent perspective, making it much easier to compare their shapes and sizes.

 

 

 

Of course, higher-resolution images in the days to come will allow mission scientists to make more accurate maps, but this map is a tantalizing preview.

"We're at the 'man in the moon' stage of viewing Pluto," said John Spencer of the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado, deputy leader of the Geology, Geophysics and Imaging team. "It's easy to imagine you're seeing familiar shapes in this bizarre collection of light and dark features. However, it's too early to know what these features really are."

http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/New_Horizons_Map_of_Pluto_The_Whale_and_the_Donut_999.html

post-546174-0-00891900-1436504735.jpg

 

 

Image of Pluto only from the New Horizons' Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), July 8, 2015. Most of the bright features around Pluto's edge are a result of image processing, but the bright sliver below the dark "whale," which is also visible in unprocessed images, is real. Credits: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI

http://spaceref.com/pluto/new-views-of-pluto-and-charon.html

post-546174-0-93620900-1436504882.jpg

 

 

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Unobscured Vision    2,676

It's a shame they won't be able to image the entire surface of Pluto and Charon on this mission. They're only presented with one full hemisphere and 15-17 degrees south of the other. Since the probe is heading over the north geographic pole of Pluto on a +Lat trajectory, they won't get anything at all about the southern half of the planet at all.

 

And yes, Science, Pluto's a Planet. I think that particular question has been answered now. It is certainly not composed of "more than 25% ice" either, and it has indeed cleared its' orbit of debris. How the devil did Nix, Hydra, and Styx get captured? By looking at those objects longingly and asking them to be its' friends?

 

Ceres, Dwarf Planet -- yes. Charon, yes. Dwarf Planet. Both have 30%~50% ice composition. We've established that fact for both objects.

 

Pluto, bonafide Planet. Proper Planet. True Planet. At least 96% Rock and Ore composition.

 

Let's end the nonsense. Restore Pluto's planethood, please.

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Flawedspirit    99

It's a shame they won't be able to image the entire surface of Pluto and Charon on this mission. They're only presented with one full hemisphere and 15-17 degrees south of the other. Since the probe is heading over the north geographic pole of Pluto on a +Lat trajectory, they won't get anything at all about the southern half of the planet at all.

 

And yes, Science, Pluto's a Planet. I think that particular question has been answered now. It is certainly not composed of "more than 25% ice" either, and it has indeed cleared its' orbit of debris. How the devil did Nix, Hydra, and Styx get captured? By looking at those objects longingly and asking them to be its' friends?

 

Ceres, Dwarf Planet -- yes. Charon, yes. Dwarf Planet. Both have 30%~50% ice composition. We've established that fact for both objects.

 

Pluto, bonafide Planet. Proper Planet. True Planet. At least 96% Rock and Ore composition.

 

Let's end the nonsense. Restore Pluto's planethood, please.

Part of what makes a planet a planet is the whole "cleared its orbital neighborhood of debris" thing. Pluto hasn't; its gravitational pull is too small to clear its orbit of all the other small things that share the same path. That's why Pluto isn't considered a planet. We've had a pretty good idea of what its made of for a while.

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Unobscured Vision    2,676

Respectfully, the Gas Giants have not completely done so either. There are numerous bodies that are in orbital resonances with those planets and the Sun which have not been swept clear.

 

The Earth itself has objects that are in similar orbital resonances, and some that are downright strange -- one or two that I can recall that have even been referred to as our "second and third moon(s)" at one time or another (even though they certainly are not).

 

No. The International Astronomical Society (IAS), who is responsible for defining what is what (and why) really needs to change their parameters quite substantially about what is and is not a planet. Pluto qualifies just as much as Jupiter does.

 

a) It can capture objects in its' orbit as moons, eject them into or from the Solar System, or impact those objects upon its' surface. At what rate of speed it does these things does not matter, nor has it ever been specified that it must perform these actions at such-and-such a speed to qualify as a planetary system.

 

b) Pluto also has a significant atmosphere. How significant is unknown at this time; but it is estimated to be at least as dense as 6.4 ~ 24 mbar -- about the same as Mars. More data is forthcoming.

 

c) The old estimates for Pluto's density were based upon old estimates on size -- now we know Pluto's size is, in fact, nearly double the old estimates (which had been as low as 1,180 km or 733 mi). Now we know that Pluto is, in fact, nearly twice as large (2,274 km or 1,413 mi) and Charon is twice as large also (Old estimates: 600 km or 373 mi | New data: 1,172 km or 728 mi), so the density estimates need to be reworked.

 

Not to argue with you, but I really think the IAS needs to revisit this issue.

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Bamsebjørn    745

It's a shame they won't be able to image the entire surface of Pluto and Charon on this mission. They're only presented with one full hemisphere and 15-17 degrees south of the other. Since the probe is heading over the north geographic pole of Pluto on a +Lat trajectory, they won't get anything at all about the southern half of the planet at all.

 

And yes, Science, Pluto's a Planet. I think that particular question has been answered now. It is certainly not composed of "more than 25% ice" either, and it has indeed cleared its' orbit of debris. How the devil did Nix, Hydra, and Styx get captured? By looking at those objects longingly and asking them to be its' friends?

 

Ceres, Dwarf Planet -- yes. Charon, yes. Dwarf Planet. Both have 30%~50% ice composition. We've established that fact for both objects.

 

Pluto, bonafide Planet. Proper Planet. True Planet. At least 96% Rock and Ore composition.

 

Let's end the nonsense. Restore Pluto's planethood, please.

 

I hate living in a system with only 8 planets... it was very childish to declassify Pluto as a proper planet. Thank you for supporting the cause.  (Y)

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Shiranui    1,916

Amazing photo. Can't wait for more.

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Unobscured Vision    2,676

And excuse me, everyone. I failed to mention the other moon of Pluto, Kerberos, in my summary and post-summary rant(s). I was rather tired last night; but as I'm sure we can all relate to, when one is passionate about something they tend to stay up longer than they should.  :rofl:

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Unobscured Vision    2,676

July 10th Daily Briefing for New Horizons/Pluto Mission Pre-Flyby

 

 

Also of interest is the Solar Weather Report for the week of the flyby. Per Dusan Odstricil, a Climatologist working at the Community Coordinated Modeling Center, or CCMC, at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, "Our simulation estimates that during the New Horizon approach, Pluto might be immersed in a region with very low solar wind densities, lasting for about one month," said Odstricil. "This will be followed by a large merged region which could significantly compress Pluto's atmosphere." (source)

 

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Draggendrop    5,747

As a youngster in grade school.....long long ago....we all memorized the planets.....in my world, Pluto is still a planet and always will be....... :)

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Draggendrop    5,747

Cassini, Spitzer and Kepler will try to assist New Horizons...

 

 

 

"NASA is aiming some of our most powerful space observatories at Pluto," said Paul Hertz, Astrophysics Division Director at NASA Headquarters, Washington. "With their unique capabilities combined, we will have a multi-faceted view of the Pluto system complementary to New Horizons data."
Right around New Horizons' closest approach to Pluto, Cassini will take an image of the dwarf planet from its station in orbit around Saturn. Although Cassini is the closest spacecraft to New Horizons' distant location, the image of Pluto will be but a faint dot on a field of stars. Even so, the image will provide a scientific measurement of Pluto from a different vantage point that will complement data collected by New Horizons.
"The Cassini team has been pleased to provide occasional imaging support for New Horizons for several years to aid with the Pluto-bound spacecraft's navigation. It's great to provide one last look at it soars through the Pluto system," said Earl Maize, Cassini project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Even after New Horizons flies past Pluto, the observations don't end there. On July 23, Spitzer Space Telescope will begin a seven-day series of observations, gathering infrared data at 18 different longitudes. The data will reveal possible changes in ice on Pluto's surface.
"Spitzer is around 4.87 billion km (around 3 billion miles) from Pluto," said Noemi Pinella-Alonso from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and lead investigator of the Spitzer observations. "The spacecraft provides an effective tool to study the ice on the surface and search for other materials that have not yet been identified."
Beginning in October, the Kepler spacecraft in its new mission, K2, will train its unceasing gaze on Pluto for nearly three months. Similar to how Kepler detected distant planets by measuring the change in brightness of their host star, K2 will record the change in the reflected light off Pluto and its nearest and largest moon Charon. Scientists will learn more about the effects on the atmosphere and surface of Pluto imparted by the dwarf planet's eccentric and expanding orbit about the sun. The data may also reveal seasonal changes on this chilly world.

 

http://phys.org/news/2015-07-nasa-missions-eyes-pluto.html

 

Cassini

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassini%E2%80%93Huygens

 

Kepler

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kepler_(spacecraft)

 

Spitzer

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spitzer_Space_Telescope

 

Bullpen warming up....... :D

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Unobscured Vision    2,676

Too bad they can't perform some comparative recalibration with what New Horizons is actually seeing versus what current-generation Earth-based instrumentation has observed on Pluto and Charon to improve the operational and functional resolution of future instruments and software.

 

I'd sure like to make use of the opportunity to have people "on the ball" making some much-needed adjustments and improvements, because some of the (quite literal) garbage-rendered "corrected imagery" has turned out to be anything but that when we finally saw the real deal up close. I understand the need for ever-evolving and ever-improving instrumentation, but what we've had could have performed better.

 

Just my own opinion, let me get into the flame-proof suit. :p

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Draggendrop    5,747

Too bad they can't perform some comparative recalibration with what New Horizons is actually seeing versus what current-generation Earth-based instrumentation has observed on Pluto and Charon to improve the operational and functional resolution of future instruments and software.

 

I'd sure like to make use of the opportunity to have people "on the ball" making some much-needed adjustments and improvements, because some of the (quite literal) garbage-rendered "corrected imagery" has turned out to be anything but that when we finally saw the real deal up close. I understand the need for ever-evolving and ever-improving instrumentation, but what we've had could have performed better.

 

Just my own opinion, let me get into the flame-proof suit. :p

Yes, IMHO, That has always been a problem with long lead time missions. I have always wondered why instrumentation structures, such as phased arrays and CCD's have not been oversized as well excess processor capabilities such as GPU's sent with only algorithms available at the time, but be updateable by transmitting new code, algorithms that are the latest and capable of maximizing the excess or spare processing ability. Seems these probes are always locked in. These missions cost a lot but throw another handful of cash at it in hopes of better future utilization of on board resources. This is where phased arrays are great. Example, (or bad analogy)you can run XP (10 years ago) and throw all the graphics crap you can into the sat and hope 10 years later you have a better OS and better programming to handle whats on board...bad analogy (they don't use windows)but it shows the point. In todays modern world for graphics...let the scientists decide the data they want........let the engineers build it...... and let the gamers handle the imagery.....Just my opinion.

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Draggendrop    5,747

Looks like one of the photo's has been cleaned up a tad...from 9 July 2015, from 5.4 million km out...

 

post-546174-0-46805100-1436643133.jpg

 

post-546174-0-23849500-1436643156.jpg

 

 

With NASA

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Draggendrop    5,747

/s    While using a different rendering engine, I was able to clear up the photo a tad......

 

post-546174-0-08338200-1436643741.png

 

oh..oh...

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onewarmslime    195

Amazing. I always wondered what Pluto looked like. I always thought it'd be p urple.

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Unobscured Vision    2,676

Too bad New Horizons couldn't have been an Orbiter. Think of the science this mission could have gathered, orbiting the Pluto-Charon barycenter for 5-10 years ... *sigh* Sure, it would have taken longer to get there, but the science rewards would have been far greater.

 

And we still haven't gotten the Ulysses or Posiden Orbital Missions either. Humanity really, really deserves the science that could be garnered from long-duration orbiters at Uranus and Neptune.

 

Seriously, Humans. We're not capable of coming together as a planet and doing these things together?

 

/rant

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Jim K    13,636

Another image.  Getting there.   :)

post-21852-0-59828700-1436654327.jpg

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Unobscured Vision    2,676

Yep, that's the last detailed image of the Charon-facing side of Pluto we'll get from this mission. There may be more, but they won't be of the entire side. Of course, the detail will improve the closer NH gets.

 

With time, the new Space Telescopes and Earth-Based gear that will come online in the next 20 years or so will have just about this level of resolution, so we're going to need some serious improvements in enhancement software to really bring out any more detail than this.

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Unobscured Vision    2,676

July 11th Daily Briefing for New Horizons:Pluto Mission Pre Flyby

 

 

NASA-TV/HD Main Page -- Has 4 different streams, including the ISS Stream.

 

http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html

 

Not much news coming out today, as the spacecraft is in full "Science Mode". Beginning in late July, New Horizons will begin transmitting the data it has collected (12-15 GB) in a process that will take as long as 18 months(!). We won't see any real data until sometime in September or even October, according to NASA.

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Draggendrop    5,747

Meet Ralph....

 

 

BOULDER, Colo.

post-546174-0-38831200-1436761055.jpg

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Draggendrop    5,747

Came across this video by accident, but this one is informative with respect to Pluto's moon discoveries and behavior......

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DocM    16,580

Cool

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The_Decryptor    1,105
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