Countdown to Pluto

New Horizons has arrived at the Pluto system.  The unmanned NASA spacecraft New Horizons will flyby Pluto  7:49 am ET on Tuesday, July 14, 2015.

There is live NASA TV coverage.
There will be updates for AAAP Members on the private Yahoo User Group and for members and public on the Facebook Page:

Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh on Facebook.


Link for NASA Ustream Live Coverage:



Additional Pluto Flyby Information:


Courtesy of Anita Sohus of the NASA Museum Alliance, FYI…


Timing dependent on what happens during downlinks with the Deep Space Network, hence subject to change.


Jimmy Lee from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center provided the attached sheet. Below are the details:


  • On approach, LORRItakes critical optical navigation images to confirm the spacecraft is on the right course for the flyby.  The team can use these data to adjust timing of the observation sequence as late as July 12.
  • Final radio transmission prior to closest approach is received at ~11:15pm EDT on July 13.
  • During the flyby on July 14, LORRIwill take high-resolution B/W images, Ralph / MVIC will make color maps, and Ralph / LEISA will image the system in the infrared, all of which will help determine the geology and composition of the surface.
  • Closest approach to Pluto is at 7:49:57 a.m. EDTon July 14.
  • Approximately one hour after closest approach, at 8:51am EDT on July 14, the spacecraft will turn around and, with Pluto between it and the Sun, Alicewill make ultraviolet measurements to determine the composition of the atmosphere.
  • When Pluto is between the spacecraft and Earth, REXwill receive transmissions from the Deep Space Network (DSN) to determine the pressure and temperature of the atmosphere.
  • The spacecraft will orient toward Earth and make its first transmission after the closest approach at approximately 4:30 pm EDT, which arrives at earth at approximately 9:00 pm EDT.
  • Throughout the flyby, SWAPand PEPSSI will characterize the energetic particle environment, and SDC will search for dust in the Pluto system.


IMAGES expected to be AVAILABLE

JULY 13:         B/W images of Pluto and Charon at 15 km/pixel and 20 km/pixel (LORRI)

JULY 14:         Color image of Pluto and Charon at 28 km/pixel (Ralph/MVIC)

Color image of Charon at 7 km/pixel (Ralph/MVIC)

B/W full-frame image of Pluto at 4 km/pixel (LORRI)



Alice – ultraviolet imaging spectrometer

LORRI – LOng Range Reconnaissance Imager

PEPSSI – Pluto Energetic Particle Spectrometer Science Investigation

Ralph – multispectral and near-infrared hyperspectral imaging instrument

Ralph/LEISA – Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array

Ralph/MVIC – Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera

REX – Radio science EXperiment

SWAP – Solar Wind Around Pluto

SDC – Student Dust Counter


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