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Last of Pluto’s Moons – Mysterious Kerberos – Revealed by New Horizons

Images of Pluto’s tiny moon Kerberos taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft –and just sent back to Earth this week – complete the family portrait of Pluto’s moons. Kerberos appears to be smaller than scientists expected and has a highly-reflective surface, counter to predictions prior to the Pluto flyby in July. “Once again, the Pluto Read More

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Pluto’s Puzzling Patterns and Pits

It seems that the more we see of Pluto, the more fascinating it gets. With its prominent heart-shaped feature, icy mountains, and “snakeskin” terrain, Pluto has already surprised New Horizons scientists with the variety and complexity of its surface features. Now this latest image, from the heart of Pluto’s heart feature, show the plains’ enigmatic Read More

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New Horizons Finds Blue Skies and Water Ice on Pluto

The first color images of Pluto’s atmospheric hazes, returned by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft last week, reveal that the hazes are blue. “Who would have expected a blue sky in the Kuiper Belt? It’s gorgeous,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Boulder, Colorado. The haze particles themselves are likely Read More

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NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft Begins Intensive Data Downlink Phase

As a flyby mission, New Horizons was designed to gather as much information as it could, as quickly as it could, as it sped past Pluto and its family of moons – then store its wealth of data to its digital recorders for later transmission to Earth. Since late July, New Horizons has only been Read More

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NASA’s New Horizons Team Selects Potential Kuiper Belt Flyby Target

This remote KBO was one of two identified as potential destinations and the one recommended to NASA by the New Horizons team.  Although NASA has selected 2014 MU69 as the target, as part of its normal review process the agency will conduct a detailed assessment before officially approving the mission extension to conduct additional science. Read More

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NASA’s New Horizons Discovers Frozen Plains in the Heart of Pluto’s ‘Heart’

In the latest data from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, a new close-up image of Pluto reveals a vast, craterless plain that appears to be no more than 100 million years old, and is possibly still being shaped by geologic processes. This frozen region is north of Pluto’s icy mountains, in the center-left of the heart Read More

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NASA’s New Horizons ‘Phones Home’ Safe after Pluto Flyby

The call everyone was waiting for is in. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft phoned home just before 9 p.m. EDT Tuesday to tell the mission team and the world it had accomplished the historic first-ever flyby of Pluto. “I know today we’ve inspired a whole new generation of explorers with this great success, and we look Read More

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Methane Detected on Pluto

Yes, there is methane on Pluto, and, no, it doesn’t come from cows. The infrared spectrometer on NASA’s Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft has detected frozen methane on Pluto’s surface; Earth-based astronomers first observed the chemical compound on Pluto in 1976. “We already knew there was methane on Pluto, but these are our first detections,” said Read More

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NASA Announces Television Coverage, Media Activities for Pluto Flyby

NASA is inviting media to cover New Horizons’ historic Pluto flyby in mid-July, including the spacecraft’s closest approach to Pluto on July 14, from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, site of the mission operations center. Media who wish to cover the events at APL must receive accreditation from the Read More

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New Horizons Approaches During Anniversary of Charon’s Discovery

Pluto was discovered in 1930, but the icy world’s large companion remained hidden for 48 more years due to the close proximity of the pair, which made them appear to blur together in observations. Charon and Pluto are separated by about 12,000 miles, with Charon measuring about 790 miles in diameter– slightly more than half Read More