A particularly striking new image, taken on July 9 when the spacecraft was about 3.3 million miles from Pluto, shows the “whale’s tail”, a seemingly geologically complicated area of the dwarf planet, according to NASA. The bright heart-shaped area is about 2,000 kilometres across and scientists are puzzled about what it might be. The photos taken by New Horizons will be up close and personal. “It will be incredible”.
Next week, the probe, carrying the ashes of Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto, will arrive alongside the dwarf planet. I’ll find an expert to answer your questions.
It could even help explain the origin of life on Earth.
The New Horizons spacecraft is now just a few days from reaching Pluto. The resulting images show the planet and its largest moon, Charon, in “approximately true color” – like what you’d see if you were actually looking out a window from inside the New Horizons.
Unlike most of us, Lacovara also has the good luck of being invited to join the New Horizons team at mission control.
Until now, little has been known about what the ex-planet’s surface might look like.
When it’s all over, this $700 million mission will give astronomers – and humanity – a better understanding of how we got here.
On Tuesday it will begin sampling the solar wind, magnetic field, dust and atmospheric conditions.
As New Horizons bears down on Pluto, its images just get sharper and sharper.
At the Ames event, three hundred registered guests will have the opportunity to hear guest lectures from scientists about exploration and the New Horizons mission to Pluto, talk to researchers at informational booths and view live NASA broadcasts.
Next Tuesday the craft will fly by Pluto as close as 12,500 kilometers above the surface.
As the newest black and white image from New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) appeared on the morning of July 10, members of the science team reacted with joy and delight, seeing Pluto as never before. Next week, New Horizons, which was launched in 2006, is expected to pass within 7,800 miles of the dwarf planet’s surface, revealing its “complex and nuanced surface” in further, unprecedented detail. “We have a couple of opportunities to uplink those updated timing information as well as the most precise estimate that we have for Pluto’s orbit and it’s satellites to the spacecraft right before the closest approach”, said Holdridge.