Sunday, June 7, 2015

6 weeks to go!!

New Horizons is screaming along towards Pluto and Charon, we have only 8 6!! weeks until the encounter (apparently I started this post 2 weeks ago, sigh). I find myself getting more and more excited; there's nothing like seeing articles about your day to day work on CNN or having a slot on your calendar as a reminder that the New York Times will be coming by for an interview (and don't do anything stupid or infamous while they watch you through the glass).

As an example of what our little spacecraft is doing, here's some pictures of Pluto and it's moons. You can see how the scientists process the images coming down from New Horizons; for the first time we are seeing the tiniest moons of Pluto. You can read the article here.

We also were able to see that *maybe* Pluto has ice caps from this video.

In other space news close to me, MESSENGER finally gave up the ghost and crashed into the planet Mercury, having run out of fuel and the will to fight gravity. I was in the Ops Center for the final transmission with gobs of others and it was really nifty. See the pictures below, on the left is the first picture it took of the Mercury surface after achieving orbit, and then it's final picture before impact on the right. MESSENGER was the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury and was able to full map the planet, seeing parts unknown to human eyes. You can visit for more info and cool pictures.

More to come, including my trip out to California to visit the big 70-m antenna!!