Subject: NASA is Releasing New Horizons’ Pluto Images
From: Alex Kemp
Date: Thursday, 16 July 2015 11:36:35 +0100
To: Oliver Kemp, Micaela Kemp, Liisa Kemp, Davin Kemp

(the NASA 404 page is good; on top of a starry background it says):

404 The cosmic object you are looking for has disappeared beyond the event horizon.

New Horizons is sending it’s info back to Earth. At 1kb/sec. I was communicating ⅓rd slower than that with America in the 1990s (300 bits/sec with an Amstrad portable) so I guess that we should be grateful. Here is a *very* early picture:

Pluto (larger) + Charon (magnified 4x) (credit: NASA/JHU APL/SwRI)

The above was the 2nd picture taken by New Horizons (the first were on July 2014; these were on January 25/27 2015) and were taken as part of the "optical navigation" (OpNav) campaign to be able to fine-tune the probe’s flightpath so that it flew by Pluto rather than flew into it. They are not normally the sort that would get published, but a media genius decided that they were taken on the 109th birthday of Clyde Tombaugh (the chap that discovered Pluto in 1930 at the Percival Lowell Observatory).

An even better (and more recent) picture is this one:

(a browser will show that one; it is an animation of views of Pluto through the years):

This animation combines various observations of Pluto over the course of several decades. The first frame is a digital zoom-in on Pluto as it appeared upon its discovery by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930 (image courtesy Lowell Observatory Archives). The other images show various views of Pluto as seen by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope beginning in the 1990s and NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft in 2015. The final sequence zooms in to a close-up frame of Pluto released on July 15, 2015.

It is going to take 16 to 18 months for all the data to be downloaded but, in this modern age, everybody expects everything to be instant, and NASA have to manage those expectations somehow.

Alex Kemp