Archive for July 14, 2015

07/14/2015 – Ephemeris – New Horizons is beginning its encounter with Pluto right now

July 14, 2015 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, July 14th.  Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 16 minutes, setting at 9:26.   The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 6:01 tomorrow morning, and tomorrow the Sun will rise at 6:11.

Right now as I speak the New Horizons spacecraft is beginning its pass through the Pluto system of the dwarf planet itself, its huge moon Charon and four smaller moons.  It’s nail-biting time, because the spacecraft will be too busy to send anything back immediately.  Everything will be stored for playback over the next 16 months.  We will expect to hear from it at 9:02 tonight when a brief phone home signal will be sent to confirm the probe’s survival.  Already this morning 7 of NASA’s deep space network antennas will have blasted a radio signal to Pluto* in time for the spacecraft to receive the signal as it passes behind first Pluto and Charon to probe their atmospheres.  Tomorrow we will expect to receive the first closeup images.
Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

*I’ve since found out that the signal will be broadcast from those antennas from 4:30 to 6:30 a.m. EDT,  Check with DSN Now:  DSN Now shows all the antennas of all the DSN sites.  Those antennas transmitting or receive data from New Horizons will have the label NHPC.


Last before image

Last image of Pluto posted before the encounter. Note that the “Heart” is rotating into view on the left. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute.  Click on image to enlarge.