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(19,264 posts)
Thu Sep 17, 2015, 12:27 PM Sep 2015

NASA releases panoramic photo of "arctic sunset" over Pluto


The latest images from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft have scientists stunned – not only for their breathtaking views of Pluto’s majestic icy mountains, streams of frozen nitrogen and haunting low-lying hazes, but also for their strangely familiar, arctic look.

“This image really makes you feel you are there, at Pluto, surveying the landscape for yourself,” said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado. “But this image is also a scientific bonanza, revealing new details about Pluto’s atmosphere, mountains, glaciers and plains.”


I am so happy this mission didn't get axed. We know so little about Pluto and Horizon collected so much it will continue to download it to us for the next three years as it sails into the dark. But no retirement for Horizon yet. In a couple years it will maneuver to do a flyby of a Kuiper Belt Object "named" 2014-MU69 on January 1st, 2019. Since it is so far from the sun (>40x as far as Earth) we know almost nothing about the Kuiper Belt. A total bonus mission.

NASA releases panoramic photo of "arctic sunset" over Pluto (Original Post) Statistical Sep 2015 OP
k&r of a really nice thread. uppityperson Sep 2015 #1
Amazing, just amazing. n/t demmiblue Sep 2015 #2
Kicked and recommended. Uncle Joe Sep 2015 #3
Reminds me of Hoth from Star Wars. Oneironaut Sep 2015 #4
Unfortunately... SylviaD Sep 2015 #10
HUGE K & R !!! - THANK YOU !!! WillyT Sep 2015 #5
K & R! SoapBox Sep 2015 #6
Science is beautiful! Sissyk Sep 2015 #7
Coolness factor of 10! lonestarnot Sep 2015 #8
Unfortunately, they still need separate funding authorization for the KBO pass.. Princess Turandot Sep 2015 #9
Yup. Although like you I am confident it will get funded. Statistical Sep 2015 #11


(5,148 posts)
4. Reminds me of Hoth from Star Wars.
Thu Sep 17, 2015, 12:45 PM
Sep 2015

It would be awesome if they were able to get a rover on Pluto to get some pictures, but I can't even imagine how difficult that would be (getting there and keeping it 'alive').


(721 posts)
10. Unfortunately...
Thu Sep 17, 2015, 03:25 PM
Sep 2015

...because of the dimness of the sun at that distance, solar panels on the rover would be useless. The only known power source that could keep a rover working on Pluto is a chunk of plutonium...not what we want to be launching into space...

Princess Turandot

(4,748 posts)
9. Unfortunately, they still need separate funding authorization for the KBO pass..
Thu Sep 17, 2015, 02:46 PM
Sep 2015

it will be decided in 2016. (They're already on their way to 2014-MU69, of course.) I wouldn't bet against Alan Stern right now, though, so hopefully NASA will come through!

New Horizons has a dish on the Deep Space Network 24/7 right now, it seems, as the data 'floods' in at around 3kb/sec.

Another image from the article:


(19,264 posts)
11. Yup. Although like you I am confident it will get funded.
Thu Sep 17, 2015, 03:39 PM
Sep 2015

Even rethugs would have to see the folly of not funding the monitoring. I mean you designed the thing, built it, launched it, waited a decade for it to get there and then pull the plug.

NASA funding in general I am much more worried about. I fear we may not even replace the ISS when it reaches end of life. Hopefully commercial transport and commercial crew programs will make it easier for NASA to budget but we still have horrible space pork like the SLS eating up hundreds of millions of dollars.

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