The New York Times has a new interactive feature detailing the things that we’ve learned so far from the New Horizons Pluto mission. It includes a bunch of short videos and I think is basically summarizing the new Science papers that appeared yesterday. The papers include studies of the atmosphere, satellites, geology, and other properties of Pluto.
New Horizons has reported back after its Pluto encounter, and it looks like everything was successful. It should start transmitting science data back soon, although it will take a long time for all the data to get back. Hopefully we’ll start seeing some of the initial results soon.
The New Horizons probe is rapidly approaching Pluto, and will pass by the planet early Tuesday morning (in the US). Because of the distance, everything has to be automated since any signals from Earth will take hours to reach the probe. The most important data from the mission will be taken as the probe flies by the planet, but it will need to be slowly transmitted back over a pretty long period of time. The bandwidth for getting data across the solar system isn’t very good.
You can now vote on various proposed names for features on Pluto that will be found by the New Horizons spacecraft. No, you can’t name anything after yourself. Current proposed names are focused on mythology and exploration in fiction and real life. Voting ends on April 7th, so you have about 2 weeks to check it out.
NASA announced earlier today that the New Horizons spacecraft has crossed Neptune’s orbit. New Horizons is on its way toward Pluto. It will perform detailed studies of Pluto when it flies by in July next year and then hopefully continue on to study some Kuiper Belt objects.