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Are You Ready For Pluto?

Pluto and Charon as seen by New Horizons' LORRI camera on June 25, 2015

Pluto and Charon as seen by New Horizons’ LORRI camera on June 25, 2015 (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)

New Horizons sure is! With just over two weeks to go before the first-ever (and I repeat: EVER!) visit to Pluto and its family of moons the excitement has really ramped up exponentially, especially considering the increasingly detailed views of Pluto and Charon that the spacecraft has been capturing on approach. No longer just a couple of bright pixels against a background of stars, the two worlds now show actual detail that can be easily discerned. In other words, things are getting REAL!

It’s only going to be getting better from here – and quickly. As Principal Investigator Dr. Alan Stern said, “There’s only one Pluto flyby planned in all of history, and it’s happening next month!”

On July 14, after more than nine and a half years of travel, New Horizons will perform its closest pass by Pluto and Charon, coming within 7,767 miles (12,500 km) of Pluto’s surface and traveling a relative velocity of 13.8 km/s – that’s 30,800 mph! It will be the first visit to this enigmatic little world at the edge of the Solar System and will answer many of the questions that we have had about Pluto since its discovery in 1930.

New Horizons' trajectory and timeline for its July 14th encounter with Pluto

New Horizons’ trajectory and timeline for its July 14th encounter with Pluto

Data from the encounter will take nearly four and a half hours to arrive on Earth from New Horizons, almost 32 times as far away from us as the Sun.

At that point we will get the best resolution images of Pluto’s surface, with New Horizons’ six science instruments acquiring  data throughout the encounter. This will be a planetary exposé the likes of which have not been seen in decades, and will indeed be the “Voyager moment” for an entire new generation of space and science enthusiasts!

And if you’re excited, Dr. Stern wants you to build the buzz!

“You can help build the buzz and will make New Horizons impact even more people. How? Tell your friends and neighbors, tell your family, talk about it at work, post about it with your favorite social media, and call up your local newspaper and TV stations and tell them you want to see coverage.”
– Alan Stern, New Horizons PI, SwRI, Boulder CO

If you want to get even more excited about this historic event (if that’s even possible) check out the awesome and emotional video below from the National Space Society and filmmaker Erik Wernquist:

Keep up with news from the New Horizons mission here, and see the latest raw images acquired on approach here.

Pluto and Charon as seen by New Horizons' LORRI camera on July 1, 2015 from 15.9 million km (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)

Pluto and Charon as seen by New Horizons’ LORRI camera on July 1, 2015 from 15.9 million km (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)

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About Jason Major

Jason is a Rhode Island-based graphic designer, photographer, nature lover, space exploration fanatic, and coffee addict. In no particular order.

Posted on June 27, 2015, in Dwarf Planets, Pluto and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. This really is a mission filled with superlatives. First visit to the Pluto system E-V-A-H! Also the fastest thing ever built by humans. I hope New Horizons doesn’t bump into anything during the encounter, given that it won’t be radioing the results back until afterwards. The science is going to be awesome – and will underscore just how little we know about Pluto now, pre-NH. It really is a very exciting time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Extraordinary feat when you consider that my SatNav today placed my destination somewhere in the middle of the Irish Sea. This is truly exciting that many people just don’t get. I had no idea Pluto had so many moons.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How amazing is it that we have the possibility to discover a planet so far away from where we are.

    Like

  4. Even though I am a 5th grader I think if this works it will be one of the biggest discoveries in the world

    Like

  5. Great post,

    I can’t wait until the 14-th

    One other interesting fact is that New Horizons carries nine objects on board the spacecraft just in case in far the distant future when it had left the solar system it is ever picked up by an alien civilisation. I discuss this a little in my recent post

    http://thesciencegeek.org/2015/06/21/new-horizons/

    The Science Geek

    Like

  6. Hard to wait until the 14-th and can see news and pics to Pluton and Charon…
    Jeff Barani from fence (France)

    Like

  7. Reblogged this on A Spoonful of Stars and commented:
    New endeavors in space and beyond, with good ole’ fried Pluto.

    Like

  8. Reblogged this on A TellTale Writer and commented:
    Just cant wait!! 15th July – Please come soon 😀

    Like

  1. Pingback: Here’s Pluto Like You’ve Never Seen It Before! | Lights in the Dark

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