New Horizons Pluto Stamp Earns Guinness World Record

New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern celebrates a Guinness World Record certificate on July 19 at U.S. Postal Service Headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Credit: Dan Afzal, U.S. Postal Service)
New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern celebrates a Guinness World Record certificate on July 19 at U.S. Postal Service Headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Credit: Dan Afzal, U.S. Postal Service)

WASHINGTON (USPS PR) — A 1991 Pluto: Not Yet Explored stamp traveled more than 3 billion miles on a spacecraft to the dwarf planet has earned the Guiness World Records achievement for the farthest distance traveled by a postage stamp. The stamp also served as NASA’s rallying cry to set the record straight for exploring Pluto.

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Pluto Might Have Volcanoes That Spew Molten Ice

Using New Horizons images of Pluto’s surface to make 3-D topographic maps, scientists discovered that two of Pluto’s mountains, informally named Wright Mons and Piccard Mons, could be ice volcanoes. The color depicts changes in elevation, blue indicating lower terrain and brown showing higher elevation. Green terrains are at intermediate heights. )Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
Using New Horizons images of Pluto’s surface to make 3-D topographic maps, scientists discovered that two of Pluto’s mountains, informally named Wright Mons and Piccard Mons, could be ice volcanoes. The color depicts changes in elevation, blue indicating lower terrain and brown showing higher elevation. Green terrains are at intermediate heights. )Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (NASA PR) — From possible ice volcanoes to twirling moons, NASA’s New Horizons team is discussing more than 50 exciting discoveries about Pluto at this week’s 47th Annual Meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences in National Harbor, Maryland.

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First Pluto Research Paper Paints Portrait of Wild, Diverse World

This high-resolution image captured by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft combines blue, red and infrared images taken by the Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC). The bright expanse is the western lobe of the “heart,” informally called Sputnik Planum, which has been found to be rich in nitrogen, carbon monoxide and methane ices. (Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)
This high-resolution image captured by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft combines blue, red and infrared images taken by the Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC). The bright expanse is the western lobe of the “heart,” informally called Sputnik Planum, which has been found to be rich in nitrogen, carbon monoxide and methane ices. (Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

From Pluto’s unusual heart-shaped region to its extended atmosphere and intriguing moons, New Horizons has revealed a degree of diversity and complexity in the Pluto system that few expected in the frigid outer reaches of the solar system.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NASA PR) — The New Horizons team describes a wide range of findings about the Pluto system in its first science paper, released today. “The Pluto System: Initial Results from its Exploration by New Horizons,” led by mission Principal Investigator Alan Stern, appears as the cover story in the Oct. 16 issue of Science, just three months after NASA’s historic first exploration of the Pluto system in July.

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New Horizons Begins Intensive Data Download Phase

False color images of Pluto and Charon. (Credit: NASA/APL/SwRI)
False color images of Pluto and Charon. (Credit: NASA/APL/SwRI)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — If you liked the first historic images of Pluto from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, you’ll love what’s to come.

Seven weeks after New Horizons sped past the Pluto system to study Pluto and its moons – previously unexplored worlds – the mission team will begin intensive downlinking of the tens of gigabits of data the spacecraft collected and stored on its digital recorders. The process moves into high gear on Saturday, Sept. 5, with the entire downlink taking about one year to complete.

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New Photos of Pluto’s Moons Nix & Hydra

Pluto's moons Nix and Hydra. (Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI)
Pluto’s moons Nix and Hydra. (Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI)

LAUREL, Md. (NASA PR) — Pluto has five known moons. In order of distance from Pluto they are: Charon, Styx, Nix, Kerberos, and Hydra.

While Pluto’s largest moon Charon has grabbed most of the lunar spotlight, two of Pluto’s smaller and lesser-known satellites are starting to come into focus via new images from the New Horizons spacecraft. Nix and Hydra – the second and third moons to be discovered – are approximately the same size, but their similarity ends there.

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New Horizons Makes Multiple Discoveries at Pluto

Mountains on Pluto (Credit: NASA-JHUAPL-SwRI)
Mountains on Pluto (Credit: NASA-JHUAPL-SwRI)
LAUREL, Md. (NASA PR) — Icy mountains on Pluto and a new, crisp view of its largest moon, Charon, are among the several discoveries announced Wednesday by the NASA’s New Horizons team, just one day after the spacecraft’s first ever Pluto flyby.

“Pluto New Horizons is a true mission of exploration showing us why basic scientific research is so important,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “The mission has had nine years to build expectations about what we would see during closest approach to Pluto and Charon. Today, we get the first sampling of the scientific treasure collected during those critical moments, and I can tell you it dramatically surpasses those high expectations.”

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NASA Set to Unveil New Pluto Images Today

Pluto nearly fills the frame in this image from the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) aboard NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, taken on July 13, 2015 when the spacecraft was 476,000 miles (768,000 kilometers) from the surface. This is the last and most detailed image sent to Earth before the spacecraft’s closest approach to Pluto on July 14. The color image has been combined with lower-resolution color information from the Ralph instrument that was acquired earlier on July 13. This view is dominated by the large, bright feature informally named the “heart,” which measures approximately 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) across. The heart borders darker equatorial terrains, and the mottled terrain to its east (right) are complex. However, even at this resolution, much of the heart’s interior appears remarkably featureless—possibly a sign of ongoing geologic processes. (Credits: NASA/APL/SwRI)
Pluto nearly fills the frame in this image from the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) aboard NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, taken on July 13, 2015 when the spacecraft was 476,000 miles (768,000 kilometers) from the surface. This is the last and most detailed image sent to Earth before the spacecraft’s closest approach to Pluto on July 14. The color image has been combined with lower-resolution color information from the Ralph instrument that was acquired earlier on July 13. This view is dominated by the large, bright feature informally named the “heart,” which measures approximately 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) across. The heart borders darker equatorial terrains, and the mottled terrain to its east (right) are complex. However, even at this resolution, much of the heart’s interior appears remarkably featureless—possibly a sign of ongoing geologic processes. (Credits: NASA/APL/SwRI)

New Horizons scientists are spending this morning downloading data off the spacecraft after its close flyby of Pluto. They plan to unveil new images of the dwarf planet at a press conference scheduled for 3 p.m. EDT (12:00 p.m. PDT). These images will be many times better than what were published prior to the flyby. The press conference will air live on NASA TV.

New Horizons Healthy, Outbound From Pluto

New Horizons spacecraft (Credit: JHUAPL/SwRI)
New Horizons spacecraft (Credit: JHUAPL/SwRI)

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has survived its flyby of Pluto. All systems were reported as nominal and controllers have confirmed the spacecraft recorded data today during its close encounter with Pluto and its largest moon, Charon.

New Horizons sent signals back to controllers in Maryland some 13 hours after its closest approach to Pluto. The spacecraft was out of touch as it performed a sophisticated set of measurements and observations with its seven scientific instruments.

It will take controllers 16 months to download all the data recording during the flyby. New Horizons is headed for the Kuiper belt, where it will conduct a flyby of an object there.

Officials say the spacecraft has enough fuel on board to last another 20 years should New Horizons remain healthy.

Video: NASA New Horizons Briefing for July 14

Video Caption: NASA officials and team members of the New Horizons mission to Pluto participate in a status update of the spacecraft and its suite of instruments prior to New Horizon’s historic flyby of Pluto on July 14. The news briefing was broadcast from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, site of the mission operations center.

False Color Images of Pluto & Charon

False color images of Pluto and Charon. (Credit: NASA/APL/SwRI)
False color images of Pluto and Charon. (Credit: NASA/APL/SwRI)

LAUREL, Md. (NASA PR) — New Horizons has obtained impressive new images of Pluto and its large moon Charon that highlight their compositional diversity. These are not actual color images of Pluto and Charon—they are shown here in exaggerated colors that make it easy to note the differences in surface material and features on each planetary body.

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NASA Coverage Schedule for New Horizons Pluto Flyby

A portrait from the final approach. Pluto and Charon display striking color and brightness contrast in this composite image from July 11, showing high-resolution black-and-white LORRI images colorized with Ralph data collected from the last rotation of Pluto. Color data being returned by the spacecraft now will update these images, bringing color contrast into sharper focus. (Credits: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI)
A portrait from the final approach. Pluto and Charon display striking color and brightness contrast in this composite image from July 11, showing high-resolution black-and-white LORRI images colorized with Ralph data collected from the last rotation of Pluto. Color data being returned by the spacecraft now will update these images, bringing color contrast into sharper focus. (Credits: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI)

LAUREL, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA will provide flyby coverage on NASA Television, the agency’s website and its social media accounts as the spacecraft closes in on Pluto in the coming days. The schedule for event coverage is subject to change, with daily updates posted online and in the New Horizons Media Center at APL.

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

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

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.

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Pluto is King of the Kuiper Belt!

A portrait from the final approach. Pluto and Charon display striking color and brightness contrast in this composite image from July 11, showing high-resolution black-and-white LORRI images colorized with Ralph data collected from the last rotation of Pluto. Color data being returned by the spacecraft now will update these images, bringing color contrast into sharper focus. (Credits: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI)
A portrait from the final approach. Pluto and Charon display striking color and brightness contrast in this composite image from July 11, showing high-resolution black-and-white LORRI images colorized with Ralph data collected from the last rotation of Pluto. Color data being returned by the spacecraft now will update these images, bringing color contrast into sharper focus. (Credits: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI)

LAUREL, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s New Horizons mission has answered one of the most basic questions about Pluto—its size.

Mission scientists have found Pluto to be 1,473 miles (2,370 kilometers) in diameter, somewhat larger than many prior estimates. Images acquired with the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) were used to make this determination. This result confirms what was already suspected: Pluto is larger than all other known solar system objects beyond the orbit of Neptune.

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CU-Boulder Students, Faculty Pumped for Pluto Flyby

New Horizons' last look at Pluto's Charon-facing hemisphere reveals intriguing geologic details that are of keen interest to mission scientists. This image, taken early the morning of July 11, 2015, shows newly-resolved linear features above the equatorial region that intersect, suggestive of polygonal shapes. This image was captured when the spacecraft was 2.5 million miles (4 million kilometers) from Pluto. (Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI)
New Horizons’ last look at Pluto’s Charon-facing hemisphere reveals intriguing geologic details that are of keen interest to mission scientists. This image, taken early the morning of July 11, 2015, shows newly-resolved linear features above the equatorial region that intersect, suggestive of polygonal shapes. This image was captured when the spacecraft was 2.5 million miles (4 million kilometers) from Pluto. (Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI)

BOULDER, Colo. (CU-Boulder PR) — After a nine-year journey of 3 billion miles, a piano-sized, power-packed NASA spacecraft has an upcoming date with history that some University of Colorado Boulder students, faculty and alumni wouldn’t miss for the world.

Tuesday, July 14, is the day the New Horizons spacecraft will whip by Pluto and become the first ever spacecraft to visit perhaps the most enchanting planet. A team of CU-Boulder students designed, built and tested the Student Dust Counter (SDC) for the mission to measure dust particles along the way — remnants of collisions between solar system bodies — making it the first student built and operated instrument ever to fly on a NASA planetary mission.

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Video: Four Questions About Pluto & New Horizons

Video Caption: NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is speeding towards Pluto for the first-ever flyby on July 14, 2015. Scientists are eager to collect data on the dwarf planet’s chemical and atmospheric makeup, and the Ralph spectrometer will do just that. Instrument scientist Dennis Reuter discusses Ralph, Pluto, and exploration of our solar system’s last frontier, the Kuiper Belt.