Today's New Pluto Images Plus Updated Media Coverage and Activities for July 14 Flyby

The newest image of Pluto and its largest moon Charon, taken on July 8, 2015 by New Horizons. Image Credit: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI

The newest image of Pluto and its largest moon Charon in color, taken on July 8, 2015, by New Horizons. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

New images of Pluto and its largest moon Charon have again been released today, showing these two worlds in ever greater detail. Also, with the New Horizons spacecraft now in its final approach phase to the Pluto system, NASA has updated its schedule of media coverage and activities for the historic encounter. There will be continuous coverage of the flyby, including, of course, the latest images as they become available.

Media can cover the closest approach at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., which is the site of the mission operations center. While on-site media registration is now closed, walk-in media representatives may still be accommodated on a case-by-case basis.

Flyby coverage will also be broadcast on NASA TV and various NASA social media accounts, including Twitter and Facebook. You can also follow the progress of New Horizons at Eyes on Pluto.

Highlights of the current coverage schedule, all in Eastern time, include:

July 8 – 10
11:30 a.m. – Final approach to Pluto; daily mission updates on NASA TV

July 11 – 12
11:30 a.m. – Final approach to Pluto; live mission updates on NASA TV

Monday, July 13
11 a.m. to noon – Media briefing: Mission Status and What to Expect; live on NASA TV

2:30 to 5:30 p.m. – Panels: APL’s Endeavors in Space and the latest on New Horizons (no NASA TV coverage)

Tuesday, July 14
7:30 to 8 a.m. – Arrival at Pluto Countdown Program; live on NASA TV

The newest image of Pluto, taken on July 8, 2015 by New Horizons. Some interesting features with bright edges can be seen. Image Credit: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI

The newest image of Pluto, taken on July 8, 2015, by New Horizons. Some interesting features with bright edges can be seen. Most of the bright features around Pluto’s edge are a result of image processing, but the bright sliver below the dark “whale,” which is also visible in unprocessed images, is real. Image Credit: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI

At approximately 7:49 a.m., New Horizons is scheduled to be as close as the spacecraft will get to Pluto, approximately 7,800 miles (12,500 kilometers) above the surface, after a journey of more than nine years and three billion miles. For much of the day, New Horizons will be out of communication with mission control as it gathers data about Pluto and its moons.

The moment of closest approach will be marked during the live NASA TV broadcast that includes a countdown and discussion of what’s expected next as New Horizons makes its way past Pluto and potentially dangerous debris.

8 to 9 a.m. – Media briefing, image release; live on NASA TV

9 a.m. to noon – Interview Opportunities (no NASA TV coverage)

Informal group briefings and availability for one-on-one interviews. An updated schedule will be posted in the New Horizons Media Center. Media may call into the media center for phone interviews during newsroom hours.

Noon to 3 p.m. – Panel Discussions (no NASA TV coverage)

New Horizons mission overview and history
Pluto system discoveries on approach
Mariner 4 and Pluto: 50 years to the day
8:30 to 9:15 p.m. – NASA TV program, Phone Home, broadcast from APL Mission Control

NASA TV will share the suspenseful moments of this historic event with the public and museums around the world. The New Horizons spacecraft will send a preprogrammed signal after the closest approach. The mission team on Earth should receive the signal by about 9:02 p.m. When New Horizons “phones home,” there will be a celebration of its successful flyby and the anticipation of data to come in the days and months ahead.

9:30 to 10 p.m. – Media Briefing: New Horizons Health and Mission Status; live on NASA TV

The newest image of Pluto's largest moon Charon, taken on July 8, 2015 by New Horizons. The darker polar area can be better seen now. Image Credit: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI

The newest image of Pluto’s largest moon Charon, taken on July 8, 2015 by New Horizons. The darker polar area can be better seen now. Image Credit: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI

Wednesday, July 15
Noon to 3 p.m. – Interview Opportunities (no NASA TV coverage)

Informal group briefings and availability for one-on-one interviews. An updated schedule will be posted in the New Horizons Media Center. Media may call into the media center for phone interviews during newsroom hours.

3 to 4 p.m. – Media Briefing: Seeing Pluto in a New Light; live on NASA TV. Release of close-up images of Pluto’s surface and moons, along with initial science team reactions.

As can be easily seen in the newest images, Pluto and Charon look quite different, similar to the albedo differences between the Earth and Moon.

“These two objects have been together for billions of years, in the same orbit, but they are totally different,” said Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Boulder, Colo.

Observations by New Horizons should help scientists understand why Pluto and Charon are so different, despite being so close together.

“If we see impact craters on Charon, it will help us see what’s hidden beneath the surface,” said GGI leader Jeff Moore of NASA’s Ames Research Center. “Large craters can excavate material from several miles down and reveal the composition of the interior.”

As GGI deputy team leader John Spencer of SwRI also noted, “Charon is now emerging as its own world. Its personality is beginning to really reveal itself.”

Additional information is available here and more information about the mission in general is here.

 

Stay with AmericaSpace for regular updates and LIVE COVERAGE of New Horizons’ approach and flyby of the Pluto system.

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