Are you ready for the New Horizons Pluto flyby? io9 is hosting live blogs to celebrate the probe’s closest approach starting at 7:30am ET/4:30am PT on Tuesday morning. We’ll be back at 8:30pm ET/5:30pm PT on Tuesday night to wait with baited breath for New Horizon’s first call home to Earth after the flyby.
Outside North American and confused by the timezones? We’ll be back at 12:30am UTC Wednesday morning for New Horizon’s call home.
Need a primer on the Pluto Flyby? The New Horizons probe has been dashing out to Pluto for nearly a decade. After waking up this December, the flyby of the Pluto-Charon system officially began soon after. Now closest approach is just hours away, and we’re all waiting to see the greatest, best images of the dwarf planet and its bizarre moons. Install the NASA Eyes on Pluto app to follow along with exactly what the probe is doing.
What’ll happen during the live blogs? The probe is approximately 4.5 light-hours away, and it can’t do science and talk to us at the same time. That means we’ll be celebrating the moment of flyby in real time with the probe’s closest approach (7:47am ET) while sharing with you our favourite stories about this incredible probe on Tuesday morning. Tune back in later Tuesday night for the probe’s first call back to Earth (8:53pm ET) letting us know it survived the most hazardous section of its mission.
When do we get new pictures? We’re expecting fresh releases of data downlinked today from the approach (including a high-resolution colour image teased by a mission scientist as “wow^wow”, and an image of Charon at twice the resolution as we’ve seen so far) to be processed and released sometime on Tuesday. We’ll need to wait until Wednesday (3pm ET) to get the first images from the flyby, but that will include images at a staggeringly detailed 100 meters per pixel. The team will be selectively picking which data is sent home first. The probe is collecting so much data during this flyby that it’ll take a full 16 months to download all of it!
Artist’s concept of the New Horizons probe during the flyby of Pluto and Charon. Image credit: JHUAPL/SwRI
Top image: Artist’s concept of Pluto lit by the reflection of sunlight off its largest moon Charon. Credit: NASA