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  New Horizons to Pluto, Ultima Thule: Comments (Page 2)

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Author Topic:   New Horizons to Pluto, Ultima Thule: Comments
Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-05-2015 08:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
New Horizons will return to normal science operations on July 7.
The investigation into the anomaly that caused New Horizons to enter "safe mode" on July 4 has concluded that no hardware or software fault occurred on the spacecraft. The underlying cause of the incident was a hard-to-detect timing flaw in the spacecraft command sequence that occurred during an operation to prepare for the close flyby. No similar operations are planned for the remainder of the Pluto encounter.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-06-2015 12:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
collectSPACE
'Direct from Pluto': Science Channel to air New Horizons' flyby images

With less than nine days to go in its nine-year journey to Pluto, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is on the verge of delivering the first up-close images of the mysterious dwarf planet.

And when those historic images arrive on Earth, they are set to star in a new hour-long special, "Direct from Pluto: The First Encounter," premiering on the Science Channel on Wednesday, July 15 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

"Science Channel viewers will see the very first close-up images of Pluto's surface and its moons, and learn more as leading experts discuss the previous planet's status as well as uncover some surprising research," the channel described in a release shared with collectSPACE.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-07-2015 08:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA on Tuesday (July 7) released its latest map of Pluto corresponding to the side of the dwarf planet that will be seen up-close during New Horizons' July 14 flyby.

For Google Earth users, a KMZ version of the map can be downloaded here.

A Google Earth overlay of New Horizons' latest map of Pluto.

Blackarrow
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posted 07-08-2015 06:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Are those perhaps hints of dark streaks on the bright heart-shaped area? Like the dark streaks on Triton? That would involve eruptions of some kind. Keep watching...

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-09-2015 11:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Frontier Airlines has staked 3 billion frequent flier miles on NASA's New Horizon mission that will fly by Pluto — 3 billion miles from Earth, the Denver Post reports.
The Denver-based carrier will post 500 bonus miles to the account of every person who signs up to be a member of Frontier's EarlyReturns loyalty program between Thursday and July 23. New members also will be entered into a drawing for one of three free round trip flights on Frontier.

mikepf
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posted 07-09-2015 05:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mikepf   Click Here to Email mikepf     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This reminded me the other day that I had registered my wife, daughter, and myself for the "send your name to Pluto" CD aboard New Horizons. I managed to dig up the certificates and as I handed Kiddo hers, I was suddenly dumbfounded. She was just a 6 1/2 year old little squirt in June 2005 when the cert was issued. Now she's a high school junior, has her driver's license, car, boyfriend, and her own job! Now all THAT puts all the stats of time and distances for this mission into some real perspective.

Headshot
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posted 07-10-2015 12:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I find it interesting that New Horizon's closest encounter images of Pluto will begin arriving on 15 July 2015, 50 years to the day after Mariner IV's first image of Mars arrived on Earth. I believe each Mariner IV image took 8-1/2 hours to be transmitted.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-10-2015 06:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It began as a point of light. Then, it evolved into a fuzzy orb. Now – in its latest portrait from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft – Pluto is being revealed as an intriguing new world with distinct surface features...

alcyone
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posted 07-10-2015 06:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for alcyone     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The polygonal features and the sharply delineated (between light and dark) "whales's tail" are really impressive.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-12-2015 09:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Tonight (July 12) at 11:23 p.m. EDT (0323 GMT July 13), New Horizons will be one million miles from Pluto.

New images of Pluto and the craters and chasms on Charon.

OV3Discovery
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posted 07-13-2015 06:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for OV3Discovery     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One day till closest flyby. Good luck New Horizons.

bwhite1976
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posted 07-13-2015 02:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bwhite1976   Click Here to Email bwhite1976     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Check out the amount of activities being performed by New Horizons between now and the closest approach on this timeline.

I can't wait to see the high-res pics of the moons.

alcyone
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posted 07-13-2015 03:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for alcyone     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Now less than 500,000 miles for NH closest approach to Pluto, according to Eyes on the Solar System.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-13-2015 09:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Google's Doodle for July 14 is New Horizons:

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-13-2015 09:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Two important times to remember for Tuesday, July 14:
  • 7:49 a.m. EDT (1149 GMT): New Horizons flies by Pluto
  • 8:53 p.m. EDT (0053 GMT): New Horizons signal confirming a successful flyby is received on Earth
The moment of closest approach will be marked during a live NASA TV broadcast from 7:30 to 8 a.m. EDT (1130 to 1200 GMT) that will include a countdown and discussion of what is expected next as New Horizons makes its way past Pluto and potentially dangerous debris.

From 8 to 9 a.m. EDT, NASA TV will broadcast a media briefing, which will include the release of the last LORRI image taken before the flyby.

NASA TV will be live when New Horizons "phones home," from 8:30 to 9:15 p.m. EDT (0030 to 0115 GMT). A media briefing will follow from 9:30 to 10 p.m. EDT.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-14-2015 06:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sneak Peak!

The dwarf planet has sent a love note back to Earth via the New Horizons spacecraft, which has traveled more than nine years and 3+ billion miles. This is the last and most detailed image of Pluto sent to Earth before the moment of closest approach — 7:49 a.m. EDT today.

This image will be released and discussed at 8 a.m. EDT today. Watch the briefing live on NASA Television.

This stunning image of the dwarf planet was captured from New Horizons at about 4 p.m. EDT on July 13, about 16 hours before the moment of closest approach. The spacecraft was 476,000 miles (766,000 kilometers) from the surface.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-14-2015 06:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
New Horizons has made its closest approach to Pluto... knock on wood.

alcyone
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posted 07-14-2015 08:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for alcyone     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Terrific view of Pluto! And higher resolution imaging coming after NH phones home tonight (fingers crossed)!

mach3valkyrie
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posted 07-14-2015 10:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mach3valkyrie   Click Here to Email mach3valkyrie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hello Pluto! Finally a clear image of this distant wanderer. Great!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-14-2015 01:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The New Horizons team has assigned its first informal names for dark surface features on Pluto, all from underworld mythology. They include: Meng-p'o, Cthulhu, Krun, Ala, Balrog, Vucub-Came and Hun-Came.

cfreeze79
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posted 07-14-2015 01:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cfreeze79   Click Here to Email cfreeze79     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And the giant white clearing, in the shape of the beloved Disney character's head? Wonder what the team will name that?!?!

onesmallstep
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posted 07-14-2015 02:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That name is already taken - I'll go with Snoopy

All I can say is: Have Patience at Pluto!

Sit back, enjoy the images we will get for now, and be aware that it will be months (well into 2016) before all the data comes in. There is such a thing as data overflow and an embarrassment of riches, and it will take years for analysis of all the pictures and data and their publication in science journals.

alcyone
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posted 07-14-2015 08:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for alcyone     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
New Horizons is safe and outbound from the Pluto system. Congratulations to the entire team!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-15-2015 06:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Some reactions to New Horizons at Pluto...

Scott Kelly on the International Space Station:

Stephen Hawking:

Stephen Colbert (and special guest):

Solarplexus
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posted 07-15-2015 11:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Solarplexus     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Disney's Pluto on Pluto

alcyone
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posted 07-15-2015 01:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for alcyone     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nice to see Andrew Chaikin "A Man on the Moon" and "A Passion for Mars" author, with the NH team today.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-15-2015 01:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Andy is part of the New Horizons' team; he is writing releases for the geology team.

alcyone
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posted 07-15-2015 03:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for alcyone     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That makes sense. Chaikin did study geology and he is a superb writer. The images of mountains and chasms on Pluto and Charon are amazing!

Blackarrow
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posted 07-15-2015 05:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Fascinating new images, emphasizing the cruel frustration of the long wait ahead of us for more images.

The press conference which revealed the new images was shown live on BBC news, although it wasn't a great idea for the NH team to lead with a highly pixellated view of Hydra and very technical methane spectra. I could almost hear the BBC news editors groaning and asking "Where are the Pluto pictures?" Unfortunately, by the time my socks had been knocked off by the new Charon image and the Pluto close-up, the average interested viewer had probably moved on. Great science, poor PR.

(The British "Guardian" newspaper has splashed the Pluto close-up all over its front page on Thursday. Hydra, I suspect, will be on an inside page.)

alcyone
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posted 07-15-2015 07:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for alcyone     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One of the themes of this 9.5 year mission to Pluto is "delayed gratification." The team was having some fun, teasing the audience.

Philip
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posted 07-16-2015 10:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Lots of social media fuzz but no high res images yet. In 1989 we had NASA-JPL Neptune photos/lithos within a week in our snail mailbox across the Atlantic.

alcyone
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posted 07-16-2015 02:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for alcyone     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The New Horizons mission will have had two major press conferences within three days of spacecraft closest approach of Pluto — there is one scheduled for 1:00 p.m. EDT Friday.

What do you consider the already released image of mountains on Pluto to be, if not "high-res"?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-16-2015 02:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To be fair, there is a difference between the images being detailed because they were taken close to Pluto (or Charon), and their being of the highest available resolution.
The images have been compressed to reduce their file size for transmission to Earth. Some lower-contrast detail is obscured by the compression of the image, which may make some areas appear smoother than they really are. The uncompressed versions still reside in New Horizons' computer memory and are scheduled to be transmitted at a later date.
That said, there is going to be a steady stream of new and better quality images over the next 16 months, such that no one should have reason to complain.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-17-2015 01:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Flying over Norgay Montes and Sputnik Planum in Tombaugh Regio on Pluto...

A note about the image release schedule: Alan Stern confirmed today that raw images from New Horizons' LORRI camera will now be released in weekly sets due to the limited availability of manpower (the team is now consumed with the science data being returned). Also, as previously planned, no images will be returned in August and the first part of September, as the downlink is limited to science data only.

Blackarrow
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posted 07-18-2015 09:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
A note about the image release schedule.... as previously planned, no images will be returned in August and the first part of September, as the downlink is limited to science data only.

Good grief! (Or words to that effect). What on earth (or Pluto) is imagery if it isn't "science data"? The New Horizons team are obviously amazingly successful scientists and mission controllers, but I really think someone needs to give them an urgent lesson in public relations. Only the images fire the public imagination. After an image-free gap of five weeks, the public will have lost interest. OK, I accept that, for whatever reasons, the data link is painfully, oh so very painfully, slow. That means a long wait for the data which fills New Horizons' memory. So let the non-imaging people wait a little longer for their data. Keep the public fascinated with a steady flow of spectacular images.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-18-2015 11:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It is not simply a choice of trading one data set for another.

Because of the way different science instruments — the cameras included — write their data to New Horizons' solid state recorders, there are different complexities involved in the command stacks needed to retrieve that data. The command stacks needed to return imagery require about eight weeks of work and preparation before they can be uplinked to New Horizons.

The team realized years ago that by the end of July, they would be stretched thin, given the almost non-stop requirements on them throughout and beyond the flyby. So they made the purposeful decision to not further burden themselves with preparing new, complicated command loads in the days and weeks immediately leading up to and following the flyby.

Instead, they chose to limit the data return in August (and part of September) to the types of science data that required less complex command loads.

(Keep in mind, the team also needs to select between the two candidate Kuiper Belt objects for New Horizons' next target in August as well, so that the command loads for the needed engines burns this fall are ready in time.)

Public inspiration is a great thing but it is not the driving priority of this mission or any other NASA mission. And the contention that the public will lose interest really can't be supported by the facts. One of Cassini's most famous images of Saturn was taken two years after the probe first arrived around the ringed planet. The public reacts to what they are shown when they are shown it, regardless of when the data was recorded.

Blackarrow
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posted 07-18-2015 05:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert, I noticed you in the audience at one of the New Horizons press conferences. You have clearly put your time to good use. Thank you for the background details, which do help to explain an otherwise rather counterintuitive approach to data presentation.

I agree that public inspiration is not the driving priority of NASA missions, but it is never a good idea for NASA to lose the public's attention and good will. The Cassini analogy is not entirely appropriate. Cassini's time spent in Saturn orbit is long: 11 years and counting. Nobody expected Cassini to be in the news all the time. New Horizons is different. It was always about a brief few hours in the vicinity of Pluto, and it is, again for whatever reasons, unfortunate that public good will is not going to be rewarded by a deluge of stunning pictures in the days (or even the weeks) following the flyby.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-18-2015 07:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Blackarrow:
It was always about a brief few hours in the vicinity of Pluto, and it is, again for whatever reasons, unfortunate that public good will is not going to be rewarded by a deluge of stunning pictures in the days (or even the weeks) following the flyby.
I think you may be overestimating the public's expectations. I don't think they would know the difference between the images already released and any more waiting to be downlinked if they all arrived at the same time. For the general public, the full face of Pluto (with its prominent "heart") marked mission success.

In some ways, the delayed delivery increases the odds of the public taking more notice of other images, as they won't compete against the initial release and response to the full face. (If there was a common sentiment among the press at APL, it was that the mission was releasing too many images too fast; it would have been better to focus in on one or two than try to fit Pluto, Charon, Hydra and methane data into the first post-flyby press conference.)

Today's public is used to space missions returning images over a long period of time, as that is what they've become accustomed to with Curiosity, Cassini, Rosetta, Hubble and more. For that reason, I'd sooner expect a "That's all there is?" outcry if all the images arrived at once.

Mike Dixon
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posted 07-19-2015 05:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Dixon   Click Here to Email Mike Dixon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Could not agree more Rob.

Thanks to David Chudwin, he has "hit" me with pictures of Saturn from Cassini I might well have missed and that is over a long period of time. Again, I thank him for it. In today's throwaway/instant gratification world we live in, I'm happy to wait.

When all is said and done, this mission has been nothing short of amazing. The wait has been worth it.

onesmallstep
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posted 07-20-2015 10:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good to know that someone from across the pond is putting NASA's feet to the fire for not releasing images 'fast' enough to satisfy the public's craving (or lack of) - and he's not even a US taxpayer!

Seriously, I think with all the trials and tribulations New Horizons has gone through (cancelled twice, reduced science package, tight deadline to meet a launch or risk waiting two centuries(!) for another planetary alignment), I think ALL of the science teams deserve a round of applause for what they have done — and will do — in receiving, processing and releasing the photos and preliminary data.

Science is not a fast endeavor, despite what some of us "civilians" may think, and it requires a lot of patience and time to analyze and interpret incoming information. Although the fantastic images may be the "public" face of New Horizons, I think it best for the scientists and engineers on the mission to go about their work the best they know how.

And if it means that data streams about Pluto's methane come through instead of flashy pictures for a time, so be it. All will be rewarded in the end — measured by decades of research into the findings, not mere hours or days.


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