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Pluto's 4th moon
Juramike
post Jul 20 2011, 01:55 PM
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New moon discovered around Pluto using Hubble images!
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/s...pluto-moon.html


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ugordan
post Jul 20 2011, 02:13 PM
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Awesome, another target for NH smile.gif


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MahFL
post Jul 20 2011, 02:23 PM
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I just saw that, cool. Who would have thought it would have so many moons ?
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kap
post Jul 20 2011, 04:25 PM
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In the search for a possible ring around Pluto in advance of the New Horizons visit, a 4th moon was discovered, more info here: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-07-hubble-moon-pluto.html

Looks to be pretty small, less than 35km.

-kap
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Explorer1
post Jul 20 2011, 04:31 PM
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It's gonna be tricky to plan a close-flyby of all four of them, that's for sure. I don't envy the NH team, even with the years still left to plan.
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kap
post Jul 20 2011, 04:32 PM
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QUOTE (Explorer1 @ Jul 20 2011, 09:31 AM) *
It's gonna be tricky to plan a close-flyby of all four of them, that's for sure. I don't envy the NH team, even with the years still left to plan.


How close would a flyby need to be to get decent science data and images on something 35km across? I'm not that familiar with the instruments on New Horizons.

-kap
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ugordan
post Jul 20 2011, 04:36 PM
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In all likelihood, if they already have a good orbit fit for P4, the NH team already knows the closest approach distance and time. The actual trajectory through the Pluto system is fixed based on other requirements, neither Nix nor Hydra and certainly not P4 will have changed that. Only some observations times and targets might change a bit.


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Alan Stern
post Jul 20 2011, 04:42 PM
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We'll likely get a fair imagery with LORRI, and crudely resolved colors with MVIC; unlikely to do more than the very crudest compositional resolution with LEISA...more once we have a good orbit fit that goes out to 2015.5.

-Alan
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ugordan
post Jul 20 2011, 04:48 PM
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Back of the envelope calculation - let's say P4 is 20 km and closest approach by NH is 50 000 km. The moon would then be about 80 pixels across in LORRI images. Not bad at all.

That's about this big, although the uncertainty is obviously +/- 50% of this:
Attached Image


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Seryddwr
post Jul 20 2011, 08:29 PM
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Ah, Hubble - casting off veils of mankind's ignorance since 1990. Congrats to the discoverers.
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jasedm
post Jul 20 2011, 08:56 PM
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Really pleasing news! This no doubt presents a nice challenge for the re-design of LORRI pointing sequences - I imagine it's getting a little tight now around C/A.

All we need now is a background star occultation observed from Mauna Kea or elsewhere to reveal a few rings or ring-arcs..... wink.gif




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ElkGroveDan
post Jul 20 2011, 09:14 PM
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The "Kodak Moment" team here should probably have another stab at photo ops once the refined orbit details are available.


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Explorer1
post Jul 20 2011, 09:29 PM
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What would be the procedure if rings were discovered? NH would have to avoid passing through them at encounter, right? And if they're so faint that NH itself discovers them, time would be very short in making and sending commands to avoid them.
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machi
post Jul 20 2011, 09:46 PM
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Fantastic news!
New Horizons flyby of Pluto more and more looks like Voyager's flybys of giant planets. So many targets!


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Alan Stern
post Jul 20 2011, 10:23 PM
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QUOTE (machi @ Jul 20 2011, 10:46 PM) *
Fantastic news!
New Horizons flyby of Pluto more and more looks like Voyager's flybys of giant planets. So many targets!



Yep, five targets, minimum, plus searches for new moons and searches for rings. We're going to be busy!
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