New Horizon Spacecraft Sends Back Sharpest Images of Pluto during July Flyby

Dec 5, 2015

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has sent back the first in a series of the sharpest views of Pluto it obtained during its July flyby – and the best close-ups of Pluto that humans may see for decades.

Each week the piano-sized New Horizons spacecraft transmits data stored on its digital recorders from its flight through the Pluto system on July 14. These latest pictures are part of a sequence taken near New Horizons’ closest approach to Pluto, with resolutions of about 250-280 feet (77-85 meters) per pixel – revealing features less than half the size of a city block on Pluto’s diverse surface. In these new images, New Horizons captured a wide variety of cratered, mountainous and glacial terrains.

“These close-up images, showing the diversity of terrain on Pluto, demonstrate the power of our robotic planetary explorers to return intriguing data to scientists back here on planet Earth,” said John Grunsfeld, former astronaut and associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “New Horizons thrilled us during the July flyby with the first close images of Pluto, and as the spacecraft transmits the treasure trove of images in its onboard memory back to us, we continue to be amazed by what we see.”

To read more and see more images, click the name of the source below.

14 comments on “New Horizon Spacecraft Sends Back Sharpest Images of Pluto during July Flyby

  • At the time of the fly-by, it was made clear that the craft would concentrate its battery, camera, and computing power, on recording data, and transmit the pictures over the following months, while it flew on to its next Kuiper belt object through empty space.

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  • go to the Nullabor…

    On the surface yes. But the limestone caves would be nice to see, and the Southern Right Whales at the head of the Bight are on the list of Grey Nomad destinations in the caravan.

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  • eejit
    Dec 6, 2015 at 6:03 am

    Save your money and time – go to the Nullabor, it aint much different!

    I think you might find it a tad warmer!!!

    Alan Stern, principal investigator with NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto, . . . Pluto’s, ….. atmosphere creates a temperature inversion, with average temperatures 36 K …

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  • I hated it. I was teaching in Norseman for a few years, and its wild charms soon wore off. When the winds blew off the South Pole in winter, it wasn’t much warmer that Pluto, particularly as the kindly WA Dept of Ed housed us in uninsulated aluminium shacks. The only time in my life I used an electric blanket.

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  • Mods – sorry, I hit the wrong button again. Could you arrange to put some space between Report Comment and Reply, and make them a bit brighter; the auld eyes ain’t what they were.

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  • Can I second what eejit just said. I have done the same thing several times, and nearly did when making this comment. (And mods, I hope you won’t hold my years on the late 70s as a rocker in Brighton against our suggestion).

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  • It’s not something we can influence, unfortunately. If you go to the Contact Us page, you’ll find a link to communicate directly with the technical team.

    In the meantime, there’s no need to worry unduly if you accidentally hit the Report button. A certain number of Reports are required before the comment is unapproved by the system, and even if that does happen, the mods will always review it when they’re next online and will re-approve it if it wasn’t in breach of the Terms of Use.

    The mods

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  • You want to go there David!? It looks extremely bleak to me.

    A good place to do science, but that’s about it.

    Wouldn’t you prefer it if we made the most of our natural home here, on “…the small blue dot.”?

    The countryside around the quiet, unspoilt market town where I live, is gently undulating green hills and open spaces, interspersed with lush ancient Beech woods; the town also has a pub without piped muzac or machines, a functional open fire place, and the finest food and the best kept beer I’ve come across in decades.

    Every time I get back here from the city I’m reminded of just how fortunate I am.

    When I was a young nipper, and he was dark haired and slim, Patrick Moore was a supply teacher at my school, and used to tell me about Pluto; prior to that, the only Pluto I knew was the Walt Disney cartoon character.

    I’m not sure, but I think Patrick Moore contributed behind the scenes towards the space programme; doubtless someone here will correct me if I’m wrong.

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  • 12
    bonnie says:

    made the most of our natural home

    (Earth) A fragile flower…this is our home, and this is all we’ve got“.

    Snippet from astronaut Scott Carpenter speech. (heard it via NdGT’s ‘Star Talk’)

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  • As NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flies on to its new Kuiper-Belt dwarf planet, ESA is organising a more detailed mission to the moons of Jupiter.

    Airbus and the European Space Agency have signed the contract that will lead to the construction of a satellite to go to study Jupiter and its icy moons.

    Known as Juice, the mission is due to leave Earth in 2022 and arrive at the giant planet 7.5 years later.

    The 350m-euro deal struck between industry and Esa will see the assembly of the 5.5-tonne probe being led from Toulouse in France.

    Components and instruments will be sourced from across Europe, however.

    There will also be American participation as well, through the US space agency (Nasa), and from Japan via its space agency (Jaxa).

    When all these contributions are summed – including launch and operations – the full price for the JUpiter ICy moon Explorer is expected to exceed one billion euros.

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