This shot was released this morning July 14th 2015 and shows Pluto in full color. I have processed the shot a bit to enhance the contrast and improve saturation for purposes of making the detail stand out. I have to say that the reddish hue of Pluto is entirely unexpected, and the detail level has finally reached a point of quality that is simply amazing.
3.6 Billion with a big B miles away and we are able to finally see what this planet is all about. My congratulations go out to Dr. Stern and the entire team at NASA who have done a hell of a job of getting that spacecraft out to Pluto to take this shot.
Now we all hold our breath for the next 11 hours until the craft signals the completion of the flyby!
The latest photo from New Horizons are hinting at potentially rugged surface features and mysterious dark plains . This first photo is from the July 10th image release where surface features are beginning to come into view as the space craft draws closer to the Planet. In the second image I applied several Photoshop processing steps to emphasize the light and dark areas with the hope that more of the surface variations would contrast more deeply.
As you can see in the second shot the surface features take on a more dramatic separation between the light and dark areas of the original photo. The important aspect of this processing to keep in mind is that we started with a blurred shot, and with the added processing we likely enhance features that do not exist.
It is a lot of fun to take these images and run them through the filters just to see what might be coming in the days ahead.
This image of Pluto from New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) was received on July 8, and has been combined with lower-resolution color information from the Ralph instrument.
After last weekends heart stopping moment when the space craft shut down and went into standby mode, the quick return to science operations provided this amazing image of Pluto this morning. The craft suffered a shutdown on Saturday due to an overly intense computation process related to command and control request.
This operation forced a shutdown that was quickly assessed and corrected by the mission team. Return to full science operations was resumed on Monday and over the next several days the team will be receiving and hopefully publishing more amazing results.
On Saturday the following .gif movie of images taken from the craft between June 29th and July 1st hints at what is sure to be a fascinating flyby of the planet. The movie takes a few minutes to download, but is well worth the wait!
Speeding toward a historic flyby on July 14 – just over 98 days from now – NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has moved into the second phase of its approach to Pluto and its moons, beginning a series of observations and activities that will bring these distant, icy worlds into sharper focus than humankind has ever seen.
New Horizons began its long-distance encounter phase with Pluto in January, taking dozens of images used primarily to navigate the spacecraft toward Pluto and using its plasma and energetic-particle sensors and dust detector to sample the environment and learn more about the Sun’s influence – or space weather – near where Pluto orbits 3 billion miles from the Sun. During this first approach phase New Horizons also made an important course-correction homing maneuver on March 10.
In the more intensive Approach Phase 2, which started April 5 and lasts through mid-June, the mission adds numerous new and significant observations of the Pluto system, including the first color and spectral observations of Pluto and its moons, and series of long-exposure images that will help the team spot additional moons or rings in the Pluto system. The spacecraft will also make its first ultraviolet observation to study the surface and atmosphere of Pluto and the surface of Pluto’s largest moon, Charon, and the spacecraft will conduct a major joint test of flyby radio science observations in conjunction with NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN). These various activities are critical to developing a fuller picture of that system, and in assessing any hazards New Horizons could face as the spacecraft passes between Pluto and Charon.