How NASA pulled off the Pluto flyby


By: The Verge

Originally published on Jun 6, 2016

Nearly a year ago, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew by Pluto, marking the first time a vehicle had visited the dwarf planet. Alan Stern, principal investigator of the New Horizons mission, sat down with The Verge to discuss how the engineering team pulled off the mission and what we’ve learned from the flyby so far.

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New Horizons’ Extreme Close-Up of Pluto’s Surface (no audio)


By: Video

Published on May 27, 2016

This is the most detailed view of Pluto’s terrain you’ll see for a very long time. This mosaic strip – extending across the hemisphere that faced the New Horizons spacecraft as it flew past Pluto on July 14, 2015 – now includes all of the highest-resolution images taken by the NASA probe. With a resolution of about 260 feet (80 meters) per pixel, the mosaic affords New Horizons scientists and the public the best opportunity to examine the fine details of the various types of terrain on Pluto, and determine the processes that formed and shaped them.

The width of the strip ranges from more than 55 miles (90 kilometers) at its northern end to about 45 miles (75 kilometers) at its southern point. The pictures in the mosaic were obtained by New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) approximately 9,850 miles (15,850 kilometers) from Pluto, shortly before New Horizons’ closest approach.

Note: Video is silent/no audio.


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New Pluto ‘Aerial Tour’ Created From Probe Images


By: VideoFromSpace

Originally published on Sep 18, 2015

Images from the NASA New Horizons probe’s September 11th, 2015 download were “stitched together and rendered on a sphere” by the mission team. It starts with a fly-over of the Norgay Montes and rides north above the boundary of Sputnik Planum and the Cthulhu Regio and then moves east. — See Pluto’s ‘Ice-scapes’ In A New Light:

Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI, Stuart Robbins/mash mix:


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New Horizons Pluto Fly-by from Bjorn Jonsson

New Horizons Pluto flyby from Bjorn Jonsson on Vimeo.

An animation showing the New Horizons Pluto flyby on July 14, 2015. The time covered is 09:35 to 13:35 (closest approach occurred near 11:50). Pluto’s atmosphere is included and should be fairly realistic from about 10 seconds into the animation and to the end. Earlier it is largely just guesswork that can be improved in the future once all data has been downlinked from the spacecraft. Light from Pluto’s satellite Charon illuminates Pluto’s night side but is exaggerated here, in reality it would be only barely visible or not visible at all. The field of view is 12.5 degrees.

Source mages: NASA/JHU-APL/SwRI
Image processing and animation: Björn Jónsson

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What Has New Horizons Taught Us About Pluto?


By: It’s Okay To Be Smart

Originally published on Aug 11, 2015

Pluto’s not just cool… it’s ICE COLD
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Since New Horizons flew by Pluto on July 14, 2015, it’s completely redefined what we know about the dwarf planet and its largest moon Charon. New Horizons’ mission will continue to be full of surprises, but here’s what we’ve learned so far.


Unless otherwise noted, all images and animations courtesy of NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

Calculate your Pluto time:
New Horizons image gallery:…
Planetary Society New Horizons news:…
Nadia Drake’s excellent New Horizons coverage: http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.c…
Pluto and Charon are weird:…
What kind of ices are on Pluto?…
Pluto’s hazy atmosphere:…
Geologic features of Pluto and Charon:…
What are tholins? Why Pluto looks red:…
Pluto’s other moons, Nix and Hydra:…
Pluto’s family portrait:…
Dwarf planets of the solar system:…
Catalog of unusual “minor planet objects” in solar system:…

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It’s Okay To Be Smart is written and hosted by Joe Hanson, Ph.D.
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Animated Flyover of Pluto’s Icy Mountain and Plains


By: Video

Originally published on Jul 17, 2015

This simulated flyover of Pluto’s Norgay Montes (Norgay Mountains) and Sputnik Planum (Sputnik Plain) was created from New Horizons closest-approach images. Norgay Montes have been informally named for Tenzing Norgay, one of the first two humans to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Sputnik Planum is informally named for Earth’s first artificial satellite. The images were acquired by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on July 14 from a distance of 48,000 miles (77,000 kilometers). Features as small as a half-mile (1 kilometer) across are visible. Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

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Pluto at center of universe — for a day


By: CBS Evening News

Originally published on Jul 15, 2015

NASA released highly anticipated new images of Pluto and its moon. CBS News correspondent Chip Reid explains the significance behind the New Horizons mission.

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Pluto in a Minute: How Did New Horizons Phone Home?


By: NASA New Horizons

Originally published on Jul 15, 2015

New Horizons phoned home! But how exactly does a spacecraft talk to us from 3 billion miles away? This is Pluto in a Minute.

After being silent for nearly 22 hours on July 14, as planned, New Horizons did send a status report back to the mission team to let them know that the spacecraft was ok. But how does a signal travel to Earth from Pluto and how long does it take?

New Horizons sends and receives data on radio waves, which are the waves on the long end of the electromagnetic spectrum. Because they’re on the electromagnetic spectrum, radio waves travel at the speed of light. It takes sunlight about 8.3 minutes to travel 1 astronomical unit or 1 AU, that is, the distance between the Sun and the Earth. Pluto is currently about 32 AU from Earth, so 32 times 8.3 is about 265 (minutes). So the one way light time delay for the mission team to talk to New Horizons is about 4 and a half hours each way.

The signal left the spacecraft at about 4:27 in the afternoon on July 14. Traveling at the speed of light, that phone home signal crossed Neptune’s orbit about 25 minutes later. Then the signal traveled about hour and 28 minutes before crossing Uranus’ orbit. The signal reached Saturn’s orbit about hour and 28 minutes later, and then crossed Jupiter’s orbit another 28 minutes after that. Then an additional 33 minutes for the signal to reach Mars’ orbit, and then 7 minutes for it to go from Mars to the Earth.

And in the time that it just took me to explain exactly when that phone home signal crossed the planets’ orbits, a signal from or to New Horizons would not have moved very much at all.

For more on Pluto be sure to check out the New Horizons websites and also tweet your questions using the hashtag #PlutoFlyby. And of course, come back tomorrow for more Pluto in a Minute.

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Pluto in a Minute: 50 Years of Imaging


By: NASA New Horizons

Originally published on Jul 14, 2015

The next images New Horizons sends back will be the last first views of a planet we will see for a very long time. This is Pluto in a Minute.

We have been seeing new worlds in the solar system almost as long as we’ve been exploring space. The first ever views of another world that we got came from Mariner 4. On July 14, 1965, it flew by Mars and took the first ever images of the planet’s surface. Another Mariner mission, Mariner 10, was the first to image Venus but we can’t see its surface because of the thick clouds. The spacecraft then went on to its primary target, Mercury, and took the first ever pictures of the planet closest to our Sun in 1974.

Things got really interesting in 1977 when NASA launched the twin Voyager spacecraft on a mission to the outer planets. Voyager 1 reached the Jupiter system first and returned the first ever images of the gas giant in 1979. It reached Saturn, the ringed planet, to return the first images, in 1980. In 1986, Voyager 2 flew past Uranus and took the first ever images of the world on its side, and in 1989 it passed Neptune to return the first ever images of that world.

New Horizons is making its close flyby of Pluto and it is going to return the most stunning images we’ve seen from the mission yet, and they will be a sight better than the first images we saw of Mars 50 years ago today.

For more on Pluto check out the New Horizons websites and tweet your questions using the hashtag #PlutoFlyby. And of course, come back here tomorrow for more Pluto in a minute.

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New Horizons first probe to reach Pluto!


By: Physics Girl

Originally published on Jul 14, 2015

The New Horizons probe reached its closest approach to Pluto on July 14, 2015 at 7:49 EST. We have received more and more detailed images and data about the dwarf planet and its largest moon, Charon. Very exciting times!

One Earth Message:…

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