Pluto and New Horizons - The First Color Images and Animations

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is currently on route to fly by Pluto in less than 2 weeks - on the 14th of July. During this pass we will finish the initial reconnaissance of our solar system. When this is accomplished our species will have sent probes to every major body in our solar system - all in less than 60 years. Thanks to science and technology, we have accomplished in a single lifetime what once would have taken centuries.

Credit: NASA/John’s Hopkins

Aurora over Icelandic Glacier : Several key conditions came together to create this award-winning shot. These included a dark night, few clouds, an epic auroral display, and a body of water that was both calm enough and unfrozen enough to show reflected stars. The featured skyscape of activity and serenity appeared over Icelands Vatnajkull Glacier a year ago January, with the Jkulsrln Iceberg Lagoon captured in the foreground. Aurora filled skies continue to be common near Earths poles as our Sun, near Solar Maximum, continues to expel energetic clouds of plasma into the Solar System. via NASA


This mid-level (M1.2) solar flare was accompanied by a magnificent prominence (filament, if observed on the solar disk) eruption that turned into an impressive coronal mass ejection (CME) on June 18, 2015.

During the rising phase of eruptions, prominences often exhibit complex pre-flare disturbances, typically showing short-lived helical structures in the lower corona. 

Watch the video


NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 2015 July 2 

Venus and Jupiter are Close 

 On June 30, Venus and Jupiter were close in western skies at dusk. Near the culmination of this year’s gorgeous conjunction, the two bright evening planets are captured in the same telescopic field of view in this image taken after sunset from Bejing, China. As the two bright planets set together in the west, a nearly Full Moon rose above the horizon to the south and east. Imaged that night with the same telescope and camera, the rising Moon from the opposite part of the sky is compared with the planetary conjunction for scale in the digitally composited image. The full lunar disk covers an angle of about ½ degree on the sky. Visible as well in binoculars and small telescopes are Venus’ crescent and Jupiter’s four Galilean moons. Of course, Venus and Jupiter are still close.


P-11 days (2 July 2015) - new color images of Pluto reveal mysterious dark spots.

On July 1, Pluto captured its second true color image of the dwarf planet Pluto.

Created using recent LORRI images and Ralph color imager data, the new photos reveal some startling discoveries on the planet’s surface.

A series of dark spots on Pluto’s hemisphere are unlike anything planetary scientists have seen before. At about 300 miles wide, the spots are evenly spaced at the planet’s equatorial line.

Opposite the series of dark spots, a single, larger dark area dominates the surface. It is this feature that New Horizons will image in higher resolution, as it will be on the side of the planet visible to the craft as it flies just 7,800 miles away. Both hemispheres will be imaged over the course of the flyby, but only the encounter hemisphere will he the highest resolution imagery and data.

The true color images highlight the differences between Pluto and its largest moon, Charon. Since images taken by New Horizons in April, Charon has revealed itself to be far darker than its parent planet.

At 7:49 am EDT on July 14, New Horizons will make its closest approach to the dwarf planet Pluto.

The original release by John Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory can be seen here.

Check out our New Horizon’s archive here.


NASA recently announced its plans to test the Prandtl-m, a boomerang-shaped drone that may become the first aircraft to fly across Mars. This craft will join oddly named and shaped spacecrafts before it, including the MOOSE. Officially called the Manned Orbital Operations Safety Equipment (and unofficially known as Man Out of Space Easiest), MOOSE was an emergency bail-out spacecraft designed by GE during the 60’s Apollo missions. An astronaut would deploy MOOSE to return safely to earth from orbit, enveloping themselves in a protective foam and releasing a parachute after entering into the atmosphere. Read more about MOOSE at GE Reports.

Happy Canada Day! Astronaut Stephen Robinson is seen here anchored to the end of Canadarm2 on the International Space Station.

For nearly as long as the agency has been active, NASA’s various activities on the ground, in low-Earth orbit, and beyond, have been rooted in well-built relationships with other nations around the world who share their drive for knowledge and purpose beyond Earth’s atmosphere.

While competition drove early activities, we’ve witness an increasing shift towards a more collaborative and shared presence in space with the construction of space station Mir and the International Space Station (ISS). One of NASA’s 22 partners actively part of the International Space Station program has been their neighbor to the north, the Canadian Space Agency.

A product of the Canadian Space Agency Act in 1990, the Canadian Space Agency has been a dynamic partner that has contributed both astronauts, including Col. Chris Hadfield, and technological contributions like Canadarm on the Space Shuttle, and Canadarm 2 along with the rest of the Mobile Servicing Unit aboard the International Space Station.

Future projects for the Canadian Space Agency include but are not limited to the RADARSAT Constellation Mission, a three-spacecraft fleet of Earth observation satellites scheduled for a 2018 launch, and the Polar Communication and Weather Mission, which involves the planned launch of two satellites in polar orbit to provide improved weather and communications capabilities in the high Arctic.

Canada has been a vital member of the ISS program throughout the past ten years and continues to play a major role in space exploration as a central partner of NASA.

From all of us at Penny4NASA - Happy Canada Day!

Read more about the Canadian Space Agency:

Read more about the RADARSAT Constellation Mission:

Read more about the Polar Communication and Weather Mission:

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