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Four members of the observation team scan the sky while waiting for the start of the 2014 MU69 occultation, early on the morning of June 3, 2017. The target field was in the Milky Way, seen here from their observation site in the Karoo desert near Vosburg, South Africa. They used portable telescopes in an attempt to observe MU69, a small Kuiper Belt object (now nicknamed Ultima Thule) and the next flyby target of NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, pass in front of a star. New Horizons team members will attempt similar observations of Ultima this week in Colombia and Senegal. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Henry Throop

New Horizons Team Prepares for Stellar Occultation Ahead of Ultima Thule Flyby

New Horizons Team Prepares for Stellar Occultation Ahead of Ultima Thule Flyby Successfully observing an object from more than four billion miles away is difficult, yet NASA’s New Horizons mission team is banking that they can do that—again. Preparations are on track for a final set of stellar occultation observations…

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What a difference 40 years makes. An enhanced color image of Charon from data gathered by the New Horizons spacecraft in 2015 shows a range of diverse surface features, significantly transforming our view of a moon discovered in 1978 as a “bump” on Pluto (inset) in a set of grainy telescope images. Credits: U.S. Naval Observatory; NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

Charon at 40: Four Decades of Discovery on Pluto’s Largest Moon

Charon at 40: Four Decades of Discovery on Pluto’s Largest Moon The largest of Pluto’s five moons, Charon, was discovered on June 22, 1978, by James Christy and Robert Harrington at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona – only about six miles from where Pluto itself was discovered at…

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Image of dunes of methane ice on Pluto. Upper left: mountainous region adjacent to a plain. Lower right: patterns of dune. Credit: NASA

Icy Dunes on Pluto Reveal a Diverse and Dynamic Dwarf Planet

Icy Dunes on Pluto Reveal a Diverse and Dynamic Dwarf Planet Newly discovered dunes on Pluto tell us the dwarf planet’s geology and atmosphere is far more dynamic than previously expected, with the winds of its thin and multi-layer atmosphere helping shape the landscape. Found near the mountains that encircle…

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Pluto Images_from NASA’s New Horizons Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

Icy dunes on Pluto: spacecraft reveals new details about planet’s surface

Icy dunes on Pluto: spacecraft reveals new details about planet’s surface 3D render of Pluto. Shutterstock/NASA Monica Grady, The Open University When Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto in 1930, he could not have known that he was opening a whole field of science that is only now coming into its own:…

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With its Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), New Horizons has observed several Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) and dwarf planets at unique phase angles, as well as Centaurs at extremely high phase angles to search for forward-scattering rings or dust. These December 2017 false-color images of KBOs 2012 HZ84 (left) and 2012 HE85 are, for now, the farthest from Earth ever captured by a spacecraft. They're also the closest-ever images of Kuiper Belt objects. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

New Horizons Captures Record-Breaking Images in the Kuiper Belt

New Horizons Captures Record-Breaking Images in the Kuiper Belt NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft recently turned its telescopic camera toward a field of stars, snapped an image – and made history. The routine calibration frame of the “Wishing Well” galactic open star cluster, made by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI)…

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Composite, enhanced-color image of Pluto (lower right) and its largest moon Charon (upper left) taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft on July 14, 2015. Pluto and Charon are shown with approximately correct relative sizes, but their true separation is not to scale. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

An Orbital Dance May Help Preserve Oceans on Icy Worlds

An Orbital Dance May Help Preserve Oceans on Icy Worlds Heat generated by the gravitational pull of moons formed from massive collisions could extend the lifetimes of liquid water oceans beneath the surface of large icy worlds in our outer solar system, according to new NASA research. This greatly expands…

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Pluto’s bladed terrain as seen from New Horizons during its July 2015 flyby. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Daniel Rutter

Solving the Mystery of Pluto’s Giant Blades of Ice

Solving the Mystery of Pluto’s Giant Blades of Ice NASA’s New Horizons mission revolutionized our knowledge of Pluto when it flew past that distant world in July 2015. Among its many discoveries were images of strange formations resembling giant knife blades of ice, whose origin had remained a mystery. Now,…

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Credits: NASA/SDO

An Eclipse by Any Other Name: Doing Science with Transits and Occultations

An Eclipse by Any Other Name: Doing Science with Transits and Occultations An otherworldly atmosphere takes hold when a total solar eclipse blocks the Sun’s light, yet the mechanics of the event are actually rather mundane. All you need is for one celestial body (in this case, the Moon) to…

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One artist’s concept of Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69, the next flyby target for NASA’s New Horizons mission. This binary concept is based on telescope observations made at Patagonia, Argentina on July 17, 2017 when MU69 passed in front of a star. New Horizons theorize that it could be a single body with a large chunk taken out of it, or two bodies that are close together or even touching. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Alex Parker

New Horizons’ Next Target Just Got a Lot More Interesting

New Horizons’ Next Target Just Got a Lot More Interesting Could the next flyby target for NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft actually be two targets? New Horizons scientists look to answer that question as they sort through new data gathered on the distant Kuiper Belt object (KBO) 2014 MU69, which the…

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NASA’s New Horizons team has found evidence of any icy, slushy ocean beneath Pluto’s “heart." Image: NASA/JHUAPL

Pluto’s icy, slushy heart

Pluto’s icy, slushy heart Data from New Horizons mission suggest a water-ice ocean lies beneath Pluto’s heart-shaped basin. Beneath Pluto’s “heart” lies a cold, slushy ocean of water ice, according to data from NASA’s New Horizons mission. In a paper published today in the journal Nature, the New Horizons team,…

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Credits: NASA

Pluto Big Heart Now Subsurface Ocean Water Blue Sky Possible Life!

  Pluto now has a subsurface ocean New Horizons data suggests. In addition to the previously announced that water and blue skies are present. Giving Pluto the possibility for the existence of life. The big heart is about the size of the state of Texas. Pluto is about 40 times…

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