NASA's New Horizons Transmits New Pluto, Charon Images - InformationWeek

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9/15/2015
07:05 AM
Nathan Eddy
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NASA's New Horizons Transmits New Pluto, Charon Images

NASA's New Horizons is back in the news with the probe sending back dazzlingly new photographs of Pluto, along with images of the dwarf planet's moon Charon.
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While NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is far from the Solar System's ninth planet, or dwarf planet, by now, the space agency's scientists are still receiving data beamed back from the time the spacecraft flew past Pluto and its moons.

As part of the data stream, NASA scientists have been working to translate digital information into dazzling photos of the planet, with often breathtaking results.

In addition to the wealth of scientific information and data that NASA will be combing through, armchair astronomers and fans of deep space exploration have new images to sort through, many in high-resolution that show Pluto's mountainous surface and other geographical features.

New Horizons launched on Jan. 19, 2006 on a mission to help NASA understand where Pluto and its moons fit in with the other objects in the Solar System, and began its yearlong download of new images and other data over the Labor Day weekend earlier this month.

[Check out the first images of Pluto from NASA's New Horizons probe.]

Images downlinked in the past few days have more than doubled the amount of Pluto's surface seen at resolutions as good as 440 yards per pixel. They are revealing new features as diverse as possible dunes, nitrogen ice flows that apparently oozed out of mountainous regions onto plains, and even networks of valleys that may have been carved by material flowing over Pluto's surface.

"Pluto is showing us a diversity of landforms and complexity of processes that rival anything we've seen in the solar system," New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), wrote in a Sept. 10 statement on NASA's website. "If an artist had painted this Pluto before our flyby, I probably would have called it over the top -- but that's what is actually there."

With all that in mind, here's a look at the latest photos from the far reaches of the Solar System.

(All images courtesy of NASA)

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

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AdamA147
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AdamA147,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/9/2015 | 10:15:26 AM
exploring further deep space
I would be more thrilled if we had an international space center way further in the space than its currect earth orbit location. That can be used as a launched pad to explore further deep space to multiple directions.

We can start with Mars and build a station in Martian Orbit then branch out. We can utilize our money towards these kind of explorations rather than spending on wars.

 
BertrandW414
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BertrandW414,
User Rank: Strategist
9/22/2015 | 5:17:55 PM
Re: Great Images
Pdembry950, I think I'll wait for New Horizons to move further out beyond Pluto to detect and then report on the point you're trying to make - it is way out there! :-) Those social studies areas that you are cranking on have different purposes than pulling off something like this awesome engineering feat!
jries921
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jries921,
User Rank: Ninja
9/16/2015 | 2:09:41 PM
Re: Great Images
Agreed.  I've never been thrilled about <group> studies as an academic discipline as such programs tend to be more about telling people what to think rather than how.  And I do agree that NASA does its best work when it is focused on science and engineering, leaving politics and social reform to others.  But I sometimes wonder, given my interests, if I wouldn't have been better off as a History or Political Science major with a minor in Computer Science, rather than a Computer Science major (the computing profession had been my career objective since high school, but I've always had other interests).  We put too much emphasis on education as job training, when mental and citizenship training are actually more important (the old master-apprentice system is still the best way to learn a trade).
pdembry950
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pdembry950,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/16/2015 | 1:38:35 PM
Re: Great Images
I was referring to gender-studies, womyn-studies, black-studies, victim-studies, etc... majors. While it is true that future employment cannot be predicted by college major (I was EE,ECE but ended up in Software), hard engineering projects require rigor and those "majors" are not known for intellectual rigor.
jries921
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jries921,
User Rank: Ninja
9/16/2015 | 1:28:16 PM
Re: Great Images
Actually, I'm pretty sure that several studies were involved (but of the proper, technological variety; no focus groups or public opinion surveys).  And not everyone's degree is directly relevant to what they end up doing for a living, so there may have been a few liberal arts majors involved; maybe even one or two with the particular discipline you mentioned.
pdembry950
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pdembry950,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/16/2015 | 12:49:47 PM
Re: Great Images
That's because no *-studies or post-industrial critical feminist poetry majors were involved. There also were not any fashion critics complaining about controller shirts. Just reality-based smart people each doing a job. I think the Mars rover was designed to last a few months but has been cruising around Mars for over a decade.
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
9/15/2015 | 1:39:58 PM
Re: Great Images
Yes, the images are astonishing and inspiring. But to me and my engineer's heart, what is even more amazing is the fact that a device can travel to the ends of the solar system and yet still remain functional almost a decade later to accomplish its mighty task.
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
9/15/2015 | 8:03:41 AM
Great Images
Great images that were delivered by sensors deployed around 40 AU away. I wonder if the image with the heart-shaped feature will spark a debate about Pluto's status as a dwarf planet or not. Either way, it is a huge accomplishment to deploy sensors 40 AU away and since, New Horizons took 10 years to reach its destination, it creates a slight understanding of the distances that are involved with space. 
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