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New Horizons Pluto System Final Approach, 28 Jun-13 Jul 15
nprev
post Jun 28 2015, 08:08 AM
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More than nine years in flight, many more years before that in the making--this is the time. Please post all comments related to New Horizon's passage through the Pluto system here.

What to expect

Reminder that despite the rather brief duration of the actual encounter, it will be literally months before all acquired data is returned so this thread will be active for an equivalent time. Intrepid TPS space journalist and UMSF admin Emily Lakdawalla has written an excellent guide to planned imagery activities. EDIT: Updated version of guide. Emily has also produced a simulation of the kinds of images that are anticipated.

FAQs

Most Forum members are advanced spaceflight enthusiasts; many are in fact professionals in space-related disciplines. Accordingly, there are no plans to post answers to questions that can be easily answered via a Google search, and we ask that everyone please attempt to do so before posting a question.

EDIT (4 Jul 15): Admin Astro0 has produced an extensive New Horizons FAQ thread.

EDIT: Review rule 1.9 and keep it firmly in mind before posting. Posts violating that rule will be deleted without notice.

____

With all that said, the most important thing by far is to witness the marvel of discovery, of exploration, of New Horizons on worlds never before seen. This is the best seat in the house for doing so, right in the comfort of our own homes. As with previous major events in planetary exploration over the past decade it is likely that not only professionals but also the press may be watching the Forum during the coming days due to its hard-earned reputation as a place for noise-free commentary and stunning contributions by amateur image processors, so please bear this in mind...

...and I can't stop smiling with anticipation and excitement. smile.gif What marvelous things we will soon see. Enjoy the ride!!!


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A few will take this knowledge and use this power of a dream realized as a force for change, an impetus for further discovery to make less ancient dreams real.
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um3k
post Jun 28 2015, 12:48 PM
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I was born the same year Voyager visited Neptune, so this is the first of this sort of brand-new-world flyby* in my lifetime. It's super exciting!

*Excluding comets and asteroids, but I've arbitrary limited the meaning of "world" to bodies that won't let you accidentally tumble off into space.
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brellis
post Jun 28 2015, 05:35 PM
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I remain curious about what can be learned from SOFIA observations of Pluto's June 29th occultation of a 12th mag star, and if it will have any bearing on the final opportunities for course correction.

Googling "New Horizons Last chance course correction" - from this article:

QUOTE
A third opportunity for a trajectory correction maneuver is also marked just a week from now, on June 24, to be followed by a fourth one on June 30 and a final one on July 4, just 10 days before New Horizons’ closest approach to Pluto. Whether these future trajectory correction maneuvers will take place, however, will depend on the results of the mission’s ground teams’ continuing study of the optical navigation images that are being returned by New Horizons’ onboard Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager, or LORRI, and the assessment in particular of the debris hazard to the spacecraft from any free-floating dust particles that may be present around Pluto.
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Superstring
post Jun 28 2015, 06:16 PM
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QUOTE (um3k @ Jun 28 2015, 12:48 PM) *
I was born the same year Voyager visited Neptune, so this is the first of this sort of brand-new-world flyby* in my lifetime. It's super exciting!

*Excluding comets and asteroids, but I've arbitrary limited the meaning of "world" to bodies that won't let you accidentally tumble off into space.


Same. I count Ceres as a new world, but this is the first exploration of a *system* of worlds since 1989. It's also the first exploration of a world most of us have known about since childhood, which makes it extra special to me.
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Habukaz
post Jun 28 2015, 07:01 PM
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First new world to be explored for the first time since Neptune with an atmosphere to speak of, I suppose we can say that much.

(though Titan almost ruins this one, too)


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David S.
post Jun 28 2015, 07:17 PM
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I always think twice before saying anything not to add noise to this wonderful place, but I can't resist this time since this encounter will finally put an end to a 26 years long wait for me. I was 14 in 1989 when, right after the Neptune flyby, I started dreaming of seeing "the last one" up close in my lifetime.

There were times when I doubted it would happen but thanks to Alan and the amazing team behind this endeavour, that long wait will soon end in the most delightful way ! So, thanks a milion times to all the people involved for making this fourteen/forty years old happy smile.gif

Going back to lurk mode now, eyes wide open !
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Tom Tamlyn
post Jun 28 2015, 08:45 PM
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Nature has posted an interesting non-technical article about the difficulties faced by New Horizons' two navigation teams.
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nprev
post Jun 28 2015, 09:32 PM
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MOD NOTE: My fault for not making this clear in the kickoff post, but please review rule 1.9. Pluto's classification as an object will not be discussed here, period.

Fully understand the emotional connotations of this ongoing debate, but it is for precisely that reason that the topic is banned. One post removed for that reason. Please don't try to dance around it. Thanks.


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jgoldader
post Jun 28 2015, 10:45 PM
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Maybe a little fun; is there a poll facility on the site? We could puree our collective brains into a jar and come up with the official unofficial UMSF list of predictions. For example,

New Horizons will see: (choose one)
No visual evidence of an atmosphere on Pluto
Limb haze on Pluto
Clouds on Pluto

New Horizons will see: (choose one)
No visual evidence of an atmosphere on Charon
Limb haze on Charon
Clouds on Charon

Number of new moonlets that will be discovered: 0, 1, 2, etc.

New Horizons will see:(choose one)
No evidence of recent geologic activity of resurfacing events on Pluto
Evidence of recent resurfacing but no ongoing activity on Pluto
Ongoing activity (geysers/etc caught in the act) on Pluto

New Horizons will see:(choose one)
No evidence of recent geologic activity of resurfacing events on Charon
Evidence of recent resurfacing but no ongoing activity on Charon
Ongoing activity (geysers/etc caught in the act) on Charon

Hydra and Nix will be: (choose one)
Roughly spherical
Irregular in shape
Artificial, the Mi-Go shipyards of Yuggoth (sorry, big Lovecraft fan)


Etc.
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JRehling
post Jun 28 2015, 11:08 PM
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A bit of saccharine sentimentality, echoing an earlier post:

We will almost certainly never again in our lives see a world this big up-close for the first time, and perhaps no people will for many generations to come.

The biggest world closer than Neptune which we haven't seen up-close is Pallas, a quarter Pluto's size.

For fans of first looks at a world, this is the Omega. We'll probably get first looks at many small bodies: Comets, asteroids, and hopefully TNOs in the path of New Horizons, but to the extent that geological complexity requires some sort of minimum size, this is the last gasp.

The next time we get new science of such an interesting planetary body of this size, it will be something extrasolar, just a pixel across, giving up a few secrets to light curves, photometry, and spectroscopy.

Savor this. It's the last time.
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Mongo
post Jun 28 2015, 11:37 PM
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QUOTE (JRehling @ Jun 28 2015, 11:08 PM) *
For fans of first looks at a world, this is the Omega. We'll probably get first looks at many small bodies: Comets, asteroids, and hopefully TNOs in the path of New Horizons, but to the extent that geological complexity requires some sort of minimum size, this is the last gasp.

The next time we get new science of such an interesting planetary body of this size, it will be something extrasolar, just a pixel across, giving up a few secrets to light curves, photometry, and spectroscopy.


There's always Eris, although I doubt I will still be around when it is finally visited.
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Superstring
post Jun 29 2015, 12:25 AM
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QUOTE (Mongo @ Jun 28 2015, 11:37 PM) *
There's always Eris, although I doubt I will still be around when it is finally visited.


Perhaps I'm being too optimistic, but I like to think we'll visit another big KBO in the next 50 years -- especially if Pluto proves to be really interesting. Probably not Eris, though, since it's so far away right now. I predict Haumea will be next, and hopefully some of us will be around to see it.

Either way, this flyby is historic and I'm thrilled to be around to take it in.
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Explorer1
post Jun 29 2015, 12:31 AM
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Sedna too, assuming a propulsion breakthrough in a couple of decades.
Also the unmapped hemispheres of Triton and the Uranian moons (though they're not quite in the same category of 'first time', I'll admit!)

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nprev
post Jun 29 2015, 05:23 AM
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Copied a portion of Habukaz' calculated LORRI resolution & major object image widths for the next two weeks as a quick reference. Original post here:


29.06: 86.5 km/px - Pluto 28 pixels across, Charon 14 pixels

01.07: 74.7 km/px - Pluto 32 pixels across, Charon 16 pixels
03.07: 62.6 km/px - Pluto 38 pixels across, Charon 19 pixels
05.07: 50.9 km/px - Pluto 47 pixels across, Charon 24 pixels
07.07: 39.0 km/px - Pluto 62 pixels across, Charon 31 pixels
09.07: 27.1 km/px - Pluto 89 pixels across, Charon 45 pixels
11.07: 15.2 km/px - Pluto 158 pixels across, Charon 79 pixels
12.07: 12.7 km/px - Pluto 189 pixels across, Charon 96 pixels


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A few will take this knowledge and use this power of a dream realized as a force for change, an impetus for further discovery to make less ancient dreams real.
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fred_76
post Jun 29 2015, 05:53 AM
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It is much easier to use these formulae to determine the size in pixels of the objects :

Pluto : 392/N px
Charon : 205/N px
Styx : ~3.5/N px
Nix : ~7/N px
Kerberos : ~5/N px
Hydra : ~8/N px

resolution = 5.9*N km/px


where N is the number of days (decimal number) before NH goes through the planetary system.

[i]For example, right now the number of days remaining is 15 days 5 hours, this gives 15.2 days.

The diameters are :

Pluto : 26 px
Charon : 14 px
Styx : < 1 px
Nix : < 1 px
Kerberos : < 1 px
Hydra : < 1 px
resolution = 90 km/px

A view of sizes, with the Moon as a model, full size :

Attached Image


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Astronopithecus normandimensis nephophobis
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