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The Official * Pluto / Kuiper Belt * Exploration Thread


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The Official * Pluto / Kuiper Belt * Exploration Thread
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curiousuburb
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2006-01-04, 13:39



With pre-launch press conferences scheduled for January 15th (see web site via image above) and a launch window opening January 17th, 2006, the "last planet*" in our system and the "planetoids" beyond it in the Kuiper Belt are due for a robotic visit.

This long delayed "New Horizons" mission has been bumped back a few times, and almost cancelled at least once, but looks set to ride it's candle into the cold within the next two weeks.

The Mecury (Messenger) probe is already en route, and the ESA's Venus Express probe is about 3.5 months from arrival in the hot zone (both with Official Threads™ pending), so all that remains of the major spheres are the outer orbiting ice/rock balls.

Pluto and Charon, including the 2 new moons of Pluto recently discovered by Hubble <-- click for Realvideo link to full Jan 3/2006 press conference > (associated PDF files from the presentation are here and here), and possibly swings past Quoar and/or Sedna, plus other 'candidate planetoids'...

though you'll have to be patient for updates and groovy photos in this thread... won't get to Pluto until 2015... the mid Kuiper Belt by 2020.

Although with NASA putting stickers on their rides, they may be hoping to make them go faster.

* Disputes continue over what qualifies for 'planet' versus 'planetoid' versus 'moon'. Linkage available if desired.
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Moogs
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2006-01-04, 20:06

Wonder if they'll find any asteroids or if Aldo will be available in 2015.
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curiousuburb
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2006-01-17, 07:57

Five hours until launch window opens.



Launch Date: January 17, 2006
Launch Time: 1:24:00 p.m. EST

See also the Virtual Launch Control Center

NASA TV also has live coverage planned (all times in EST)
January 17, Tuesday
11 a.m. - Pluto / New Horizons Launch Commentary Begins (Launch 1:24 p.m.) - KSC (Mission Coverage)

There will be a few nervous nellies leftover from the three dozen protestors last week (worried about the plutonium in the RTG power system), but the risk is small and the advantages are large, particularly given the wimpiness of solar generating power once you get to Pluto.

Fingers crossed all goes smoothly.
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curiousuburb
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2006-01-17, 12:14

T minus 1 hour and counting...

Minor worry that the winds may increase over the limiting condition for launch today (currently 35mph), but so far so good.
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Mugge
Thunderbolt, fuck yeah!
 
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2006-01-17, 13:43

Just saw a news spot on local TV news about this.

They said it was going to be the fastest space probe ever.
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Mugge
Thunderbolt, fuck yeah!
 
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2006-01-17, 17:32

Grrr...

Now it got postponed, due to wind in the launch area.
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curiousuburb
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2006-01-17, 18:33

Same time tomorrow... launch window now Jan 18th, 1:16 pm to 3:15pm EST.
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curiousuburb
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2006-01-19, 12:22

NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto is proceeding toward launch on Jan. 19. The launch opportunity runs from 1:08 p.m. - 3:07 p.m. EST.

Countdown resumed... 44 min to go, and counting.
All systems look good. Weather is good.

NASA TV has live coverage now.
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curiousuburb
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2006-01-19, 13:57

T - minus 3 minutes and 30 seconds and counting.
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curiousuburb
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2006-01-19, 14:03

Launch!

Everything looking good. SRB sep on time.

Should pass the moon in 9 hours.
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thegelding
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2006-01-19, 14:31

9 hours?? how long did it take the apollo flights to get to the moon?

how many G's is that thing pulling right now? guess we couldn't have a human on it or they would likely squish down to hobbit size

g

crazy is not a rare human condition

everything is food if you chew hard enough
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curiousuburb
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2006-01-19, 14:41

Third stage ignition and successful burn!

On its way smoothly.

IIRC, Apollo took 2.5ish days to get to the moon.

This is the fastest spacecraft launch in history.
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curiousuburb
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2006-01-19, 19:55



Click here for launch videos Real and WMV links halfway down on the right

The top link on the right has video replay of the post-launch press briefing.
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ghoti
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2006-01-19, 20:20

Nasa needs to work on their website, their live coverage sucked. You had to MANUALLY reload the page, and they were several minutes behind. They should get the MacRumours guys in to set them up with a decent system ...
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curiousuburb
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2006-01-19, 20:23

That's what NASA TV is for... their live coverage was fine.
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ghoti
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2006-01-19, 20:39

Maybe so, but my browser died when I clicked the link for that. Also, you can follow a page with some text without giving it all your attention. And I was just surprised that they didn't even do an automatic refresh of the page, that's all ...
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curiousuburb
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2006-01-19, 21:15

I have a few of the old RealPlayer stream locations saved in RP, so I just reload various servers until I find a good one.

#pnm://media.chron.com/live/nasa/nasatv.live.rm
rtsp://media.chron.com/redundant/nasa/nasatv.live.rm - 100Kbps R10 from Houston Cronicle

rtsp://vanseg-3.arc.nasa.gov/encoder/nasa_tv.rm - 100Kbps R10 stream

plus the regular link from the NASA TV page, which is usually a 150Kbps R9 stream

I used to have a few 300Kbps links, but NASA TV went digital last year and the links got updated
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Kickaha
Likes his boobies blue.
 
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2010-02-04, 21:23

http://news.discovery.com/space/plut...on-hubble.html

Is it just me, or is the view at 180 ripe for ZOMG ITS A FACE insanity?
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curiousuburb
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2010-02-05, 07:02

New Horizons spacecraft is more than halfway to Pluto, so better pictures are pending, but still a few years away.


All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
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curiousuburb
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2015-05-06, 19:05

New Horizons detects surface features on Pluto and Charon... and possible Polar Cap




More images from the latest press conference.

The image above shows some of the latest LORRI pics... in accurate Barycentric Orbit*... and despite it being colder than a Witch's Teat at approx -370 F, the inserts at lower right appear to show highlights consistent with Polar "Ice" Cap

* Pluto and Charon mutually orbit a Barycentric point indicated by the wee bluish-green + symbol in the captioned graphic at left

More details can be found at the Official Project Page

Or the NASA's New Horizons Mission Page

And the countdown to July 15, 2015 closest encounter continues...

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2015-05-07 at 04:32.
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Moogs
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2015-05-07, 22:38

Astro-Burb strikes again! Great update.
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curiousuburb
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2015-07-10, 04:52

4 days until Plutopalooza... <--click for Toolkit: downloads, vids, PDFs, etc

The Wait is almost over ...

Well... after that extra bit of anxiety as an anomaly kicked the spacecraft into safe mode and onto it's B side redundant computer on July 4th...
NASA’s New Horizons mission is returning to normal science operations after a July 4 anomaly and remains on track for its July 14 flyby of Pluto.

The investigation into the anomaly that caused New Horizons to enter “safe mode” on July 4 has concluded that no hardware or software fault occurred on the spacecraft. The underlying cause of the incident was a hard-to-detect timing flaw in the spacecraft command sequence that occurred during an operation to prepare for the close flyby. No similar operations are planned for the remainder of the Pluto encounter.

Source
July 9th Press Briefing (15:31 min)

Latest LORRI pics show Pluto has heart

This image of Pluto from New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) was received on July 8, and has been combined with lower-resolution color information from the Ralph instrument.
Credits: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI

After a more than nine-year, three-billion-mile journey to Pluto, it’s show time for NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, as the flyby sequence of science observations is officially underway.

In the early morning hours of July 8, mission scientists received this new view of Pluto—the most detailed yet returned by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) aboard New Horizons. The image was taken on July 7, when the spacecraft was just under 5 million miles (8 million kilometers) from Pluto, and is the first to be received since the July 4 anomaly that sent the spacecraft into safe mode.

This view is centered roughly on the area that will be seen close-up during New Horizons’ July 14 closest approach. This side of Pluto is dominated by three broad regions of varying brightness. Most prominent are an elongated dark feature at the equator, informally known as “the whale,” and a large heart-shaped bright area measuring some 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometers) across on the right. Above those features is a polar region that is intermediate in brightness.

“The next time we see this part of Pluto at closest approach, a portion of this region will be imaged at about 500 times better resolution than we see today,” said Jeff Moore, Geology, Geophysics and Imaging Team Leader of NASA’s Ames Research Center. “It will be incredible!”

Source
The "unrolled" map for those who want to texture their own 3D version is here

This map of Pluto, made from images taken by the LORRI instrument aboard New Horizons, shows a wide array of bright and dark markings of varying sizes and shapes. Perhaps most intriguing is the fact that all of the darkest material on the surface lies along Pluto’s equator. The color version was created from lower-resolution color data from the spacecraft’s Ralph instrument.
Credits: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI

This is the latest map of Pluto created from images taken from June 27 to July 3 by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on New Horizons, combined with lower-resolution color data from the spacecraft’s Ralph instrument. The center of the map corresponds to the side of Pluto that will be seen close-up during New Horizons’ July 14 flyby.

This map gives mission scientists an important tool to decipher the complex and intriguing pattern of bright and dark markings on Pluto’s surface. Features from all sides of Pluto can now be seen at a glance and from a consistent perspective, making it much easier to compare their shapes and sizes.

The elongated dark area informally known as “the whale,” along the equator on the left side of the map, is one of the darkest regions visible to New Horizons. It measures some 1,860 miles (3,000 kilometers) in length.

Directly to the right of the whale’s “head” is the brightest region visible on the planet, which is roughly 990 miles (1,600 kilometers) across. This may be a region where relatively fresh deposits of frost—perhaps including frozen methane, nitrogen and/or carbon monoxide—form a bright coating.

Continuing to the right, along the equator, we see the four mysterious dark spots that have so intrigued the world, each of which is hundreds of miles across. Meanwhile, the whale’s “tail,” at the left end of the dark feature, cradles a bright donut-shaped feature about 200 miles (350 kilometers) across. At first glance it resembles circular features seen elsewhere in the solar system, from impact craters to volcanoes. But scientists are holding off on making any interpretation of this and other features on Pluto until more detailed images are in hand.

Of course, higher-resolution images in the days to come will allow mission scientists to make more accurate maps, but this map is a tantalizing preview.

“We’re at the ‘man in the moon’ stage of viewing Pluto,” said John Spencer of the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado, deputy leader of the Geology, Geophysics and Imaging team. “It’s easy to imagine you’re seeing familiar shapes in this bizarre collection of light and dark features. However, it’s too early to know what these features really are.”

Readers who use Google Earth can download a KMZ version of the map here:
http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/Multimedia/Google-Map/

Source
Latest shots of Pluto and Charon

New Horizons was about 3.7 million miles (6 million kilometers) from Pluto and Charon when it snapped this portrait late on July 8, 2015.
Credits: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI


This is the same image of Pluto and Charon from July 8, 2015; color information obtained earlier in the mission from the Ralph instrument has been added.
Credits: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI


Image of Pluto only from the New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), July 8, 2015. 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.
Credits: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI


Image of Charon only from the New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), July 8, 2015.
Credits: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI

They’re a fascinating pair: Two icy worlds, spinning around their common center of gravity like a pair of figure skaters clasping hands. Scientists believe they were shaped by a cosmic collision billions of years ago, and yet, in many ways, they seem more like strangers than siblings.

A high-contrast array of bright and dark features covers Pluto’s surface, while on Charon, only a dark polar region interrupts a generally more uniform light gray terrain. The reddish materials that color Pluto are absent on Charon. Pluto has a significant atmosphere; Charon does not. On Pluto, exotic ices like frozen nitrogen, methane, and carbon monoxide have been found, while Charon’s surface is made of frozen water and ammonia compounds. The interior of Pluto is mostly rock, while Charon contains equal measures of rock and water ice.

“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, Colorado.

Charon is about 750 miles (1200 kilometers) across, about half the diameter of Pluto—making it the solar system’s largest moon relative to its planet. Its smaller size and lower surface contrast have made it harder for New Horizons to capture its surface features from afar, but the latest, closer images of Charon’s surface show intriguing fine details.

Newly revealed are brighter areas on Charon that members of the mission’s Geology, Geophysics and Imaging team (GGI) suspect might be impact craters. If so, the scientists would put them to good use. “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.”

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

NASA’s unmanned New Horizons spacecraft is closing in on the Pluto system after a more than nine-year, three-billion-mile journey. On July 14 it will zip past Pluto at 30,800 miles per hour (49,600 kilometers per hour), with a suite of seven science instruments busily gathering data. The mission will complete the initial reconnaissance of the solar system with the first-ever look at the icy dwarf planet.

Follow the New Horizons mission with #PlutoFlyby and on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/new.horizons

Source
It's all getting so very exciting!!¡

Those of us old enough to remember Voyager may recall the frisson, that anticipatory thrill of discovery as those spacecraft enabled us to explore the outer planets in our solar neighbourhood for the very first time.

Having absorbed the initial Jupiter flyby, with all of the amazing pictures of the Great Red Spot and the Gallilean Moons, I remember eagerly awaiting the following encounters with Saturn, then years later with Uranus, and then Neptune.

Pluto's demotion to Dwarf Planet status notwithstanding*, this feels like the long deferred completion of the full Solar System set.

Considering Ceres was once considered a Planet as well, and this year we've had close up pics of that, too, I'd say we could call a few variations of the Classic Solar System ticked as Been Visited.

Go New Horizons Go!

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2015-07-10 at 05:02. Reason: Spellling, layout, link fixing, etc. ;)
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turtle
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2015-07-10, 10:12

I'm looking forward to seeing the results of this too! I was someone posted an article about it a few days ago that we were one day away from the flyby. Then they went on to say it was one Pluto day.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
MineCraft? mc.applenova.com | Visit us! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
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curiousuburb
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2015-07-14, 01:31

6 Hours to closest approach...

Although there's a 4 and a half hour light delay to Pluto, we won't get live updates... in fact, it'll be more than 12 hours until the first telemetry confirms we even survived passage through the orbital plane (at 30K mph/49K kph impact with even a pebble the size of a grain of rice could mean loss of spacecraft... NASA estimated the odds at about 1 in 10 000... fingers crossed).

To save mass and complexity, the sensor packages aren't on moving arms or platform... the whole spacecraft has to turn to point them, so it can't collect and send data at the same time. Most of the flyby is spent with various instruments rotating pointing at Pluto or Charon (a wee bit at Nix, Hydra, etc). IIRC, the only times the main antenna is pointing at Earth during closest approach are actually when it is receiving signals from the Deep Space Network to calibrate the REX experiments, measuring the atmospheric composition and density of Pluto and/or Charon.

Closest approach is 7:49AM EDT

We won't start getting data back until many hours after closest approach... in fact, there will be sooo much data, some instruments will only send brief headlines/synopses... the full data download may take weeks.

Telemetry download approximately 9PM EDT

NASA TV has press conference scheduled about 9:15PM to confirm high-fiving scientists (fingers crossed)

Close-up images and comprehensive data to be released starting tomorrow

For more details on the schedule of activities, see http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/Mission/The-Flyby.php

Follow the path of the spacecraft in coming days in real time with a visualization of the actual trajectory data, using NASA’s online Eyes on Pluto. (<-Sadly only available for Mac or PC, not mobile devices)

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
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Eugene
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2015-07-14, 07:51

New Horizons is officially worse than Australian internet.
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drewprops
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2015-07-15, 20:27

The Ice Mountains of Pluto!!!!


...
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curiousuburb
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2015-07-16, 03:09

Firstly, a correction...

Quote:
Originally Posted by curiousuburb View Post
We won't start getting data back until many hours after closest approach... in fact, there will be sooo much data, some instruments will only send brief headlines/synopses... the full data download may take weeks.
Minor miscalculation on my part. At the July 14 (morning) press briefing they explained that low angle DSN data transfer is only 1/4 as fast as it is when overhead but still only averages 56k.

New Horizons is now more than a Million miles beyond Pluto.

They captured sooo much data during closest approach that full data download will take 16 months

Quote:
Telemetry download approximately 9PM EDT

Follow the path of the spacecraft in coming days in real time with a visualization of the actual trajectory data, using NASA’s online Eyes on Pluto. (<-Sadly only available for Mac or PC, not mobile devices)
Although the Eyes 3D visualisation doesn't work on mobile, they do have a nifty web app showing the DSN status (detailing which antenna is communicating with which spacecraft), which does work on mobile... http://eyes.nasa.gov/dsn/dsn.html

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.
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curiousuburb
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2015-07-16, 03:19

More awesomeness later with the next press briefing and image dump...
but here's a cool animation of our best views of Pluto through the years:


This animation combines various observations of Pluto over the course of several decades. The first frame is a digital zoom-in on Pluto as it appeared upon its discovery by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930 (image courtesy Lowell Observatory Archives). The other images show various views of Pluto as seen by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope beginning in the 1990s and NASA's New Horizons spacecraft in 2015. The final sequence zooms in to a close-up frame of Pluto released on July 15, 2015.

Complete source list in order with image credits:

Clyde Tombaugh, Lowell Observatory, 1930: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/multimed...fm?IM_ID=19989
Note: This image is property of the Lowell Observatory Archives. Any public use requires written permission of the Lowell Observatory Archives.

Hubble Space Telescope, 1996: http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/arc...stem/pluto/199...

Hubble Space Telescope, 1994: http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/arc...stem/pluto/199...

Hubble Space Telescope, 2011: http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/arc...stem/pluto/201...

Hubble Space Telescope, 2002-2003: http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/arc...stem/pluto/201...

New Horizons, April 9, 2015: http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/Multimedia/S...p?page=6&galle...

New Horizons, May 12, 2015: http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/Multimedia/S...p?page=6&galle...

New Horizons, June 2, 2015: http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/Multimedia/S...p?page=5&galle...

New Horizons, June 15, 2015: http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/Multimedia/S...p?page=5&galle...

New Horizons, July 1, 2015: http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/Multimedia/S...p?page=4&galle...

New Horizons, July 3, 2015: http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/Multimedia/S...p?page=4&galle...

New Horizons, July 8, 2015: http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/Multimedia/S...p?page=3&galle...

New Horizons, July 10, 2015: http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/Multimedia/S...p?page=3&galle...

New Horizons, July 11, 2015: http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/Multimedia/S...p?page=2&galle...

New Horizons, July 13, 2015: http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/Multimedia/S...p?page=1&galle...

New Horizons, July 14, 2015: http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/Multimedia/S...p?page=1&galle...

New Horizons, July 15, 2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7iyd-gh2rhM
Can't wait to see what's next.

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.

Last edited by curiousuburb : 2015-07-16 at 11:59.
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709
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2015-07-18, 00:53

This is all sorts of delightful.

Colbert is going to own late night. He's just so good.
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