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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

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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

Credit: NASA/GSFC

NGC 1333: Stellar Sparklers That Last

 While fireworks only last a short time here on Earth, a bundle of cosmic sparklers in a nearby cluster of stars will be going off for a very long time. NGC 1333 is a star cluster populated with many young stars that are less than 2 million years old, a blink of an eye in astronomical terms for stars like the Sun expected to burn for billions of years.

This new composite image combines X-rays from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (pink) with infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope (red) as well as optical data from the Digitized Sky Survey and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory Mayall 4-meter telescope on Kitt Peak (red, green, blue). The Chandra data reveal 95 young stars glowing in X-ray light, 41 of which had not been identified previously using infrared observations with Spitzer because they lacked infrared emission from a surrounding disk.

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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.

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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.