One Stop Pluto Information Shop
As New Horizons nears 2014 MU69, enthusiasts are hosting "Pluto-Palooza" events in multiple locations around the country. Host a Plutopalooza event in your area using theses resources!
American Museum of Natural History
Denver Museum of Nature and Science
What We Currently Know about Pluto
Where Is New Horizons Now?
Featured Science Photos
LORRI Images from the Pluto Encounter
Eyes on the Solar System
NASA EDGE: New Horizons
Pluto Flyby Press Kit
Launch Press Kit
Jupiter Press Kit
Mission Fact Sheet
Kuiper Belt Extended Mission Fact Sheet
Post Pluto Flyby Mission Sticker
KBO January 1, 2019 Artwork
I "HEART" Pluto Backdrop Artwork
Pluto Explored Backdrop Artwork
Postcard from Pluto Backdrop Artwork
General Mission Banner Sign Artwork
PlutopaloozaKBO Banner Sign Artwork
Post Pluto Flyby Plutopalooza Sticker/Artwork
Plutopalooza Banner Sign Artwork
On July 14, at 7:49:59 a.m. EDT (11:49:59 UTC) NASA's New Horizons spacecraft will make its historic closest approach to the dwarf planet Pluto, the most distant solid object to be visited by a spacecraft.
NASA will not be in contact with the spacecraft at closest approach since the spacecraft's instruments will be pointed at Pluto, an orientation that will take the spacecraft's fixed communications antenna off earth point. Earthlings will need to wait about 13 hours, until about 9 pm EDT, for a signal from the spacecraft to arrive at Earth.
On April 14, 90 days before the flyby, NASA held an overview briefing at NASA HQ in Washington, DC for media and other interested parties. The two-part briefing is available online here: Part I and Part II. View the Press Conference graphics here.
A tentative schedule of events for the flyby is:
All data will be returned to Earth by late 2016.
COUNTDOWN TO CLOSE APPROACH
The final pre-flyby images of Pluto will be unveiled during a special broadcast on Tuesday, July 14, to mark the moment New Horizons makes its closest approach to Pluto at 7:49 a.m. EDT.
During the busiest hours of the flyby on July 13-14 – including close approach –the New Horizons spacecraft will be out of contact with the APL Mission Operations Center. A program from approximately 8:15 – 9:15 p.m. on July 14 will cover mission operations as the team awaits a signal from the spacecraft indicating its health and that contact has resumed.
The first post-flyby close-up images of Pluto and its moons are scheduled to be released at various times on Wednesday, July 15.
July 17 & July 23
Time TBD –covered on NASA TV
NASA-TV Multichannel Broadcast includes: Public Channel (Channel 101) in high definition; Education Channel (Channel 102) in standard definition; and Media Channel (Channel 103) in high definition.
For digital downlink information for each NASA TV channel, access to all three channels online, and to access audio-only feeds, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv . The televised events will also be streamed live online at: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv and http://www.ustream.tv/nasa.
NASA TELEVISION COMMENTARY FEEDS: Live feeds during key flyby activities from mission control at APL will be carried on NASA TV and on the Web.
In the New Horizons Educator Guide, you'll find all of the activities and lesson plans associated with the mission.
Highlighted activities include . . .
Why is it relevant? You might be asked, “Why isn’t New Horizons orbiting or landing on Pluto?” Well, of course we would love to! However, we will be going to fast as we pass Pluto, and will not have enough fuel to change our path and enter into orbit. There is a natural progression often followed when we explore planets, and it usually begins with remote telescope observations of the body, followed by a flyby, then orbit, then lander, and perhaps one day a sample-return mission. This activity explores remote sensing techniques and this progression of planetary exploration.
Why is it relevant? Save fuel...use gravity! As you and your students know, Pluto is far, far away. In order to take years off the travel time to Pluto, New Horizons flew past Jupiter and used the gravity of the planet to change its speed and direction. This type of maneuver is actually quite common in space exploration. Use this Gravity Assist Simulator to explore how these maneuvers can be used to speed up, slow down, and change the trajectory of a spacecraft. The accompanying lesson plan ensures your students are paying attention when they play!
Why is it relevant? We all learned “the classic 9” planets, but our students are learning something a bit different! Science evolves. As we learn we must be willing to change our models and our classifications to incorporate this new information. In this activity students learn about the characteristics of planets, comets, asteroids, and trans-Neptunian objects through a classification activity. Students can then apply what they have learned by participating in a formal debate about a fictional solar system object discovered by the New Horizons spacecraft and by defining the term ‘planet.’
Note that because of the debate format and the construction of a definition for “planet” this activity could cross into the ELA/Literacy standards.
Why is it relevant? After the New Horizons spacecraft passes Pluto, the instruments will turn back and look at how the light from the Sun changes as it passes behind Pluto, revealing characteristics of the planet’s atmosphere. This technique, called stellar occultation, is very common in astronomy. In this activity students explore how a stellar occultation occurs, how planetary atmospheres can be discovered, and how planetary diameters can be determined using actual light curves from stellar occultation events.
Why are they relevant? In our digital age, students are used to instant gratification. When New Horizons passes by Pluto and its moons we will get a few images right away, but the bulk of the data will be transmitted back to Earth via the Deep Space Network over the following 16 months! That is NOT instant gratification for the scientists who have been waiting literally decades for this data. But Pluto is far away, so it takes about 4 hours and 30 minutes for a radio signal to travel one way! These activities explore the complexities of a 9 hour delay in round-trip communication, how noise in the data affects the signal, and ratios such as the signal-to-noise ratio. Two of the activities employ a Signal-to-Noise Ratio online interactive.