Archive for July 14, 2016

07/14/2016 – Ephemeris – The first anniversary of New Horizons flyby of Pluto

July 14, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, July 14th.  Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 14 minutes, setting at 9:25, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:11.  The Moon, 3 days past first quarter, will set at 2:57 tomorrow morning.

One year ago today the New Horizons Spacecraft flew past Pluto for our first closeup look at this small world and its satellites.  And wow, what we saw.  In actuality not all the data from the few hours of the flyby have been returned to the Earth.  We saw ice mountains as high as the Rockies,  Nitrogen plains that look like they flowed from what may be heat from below, and a possible subterranean water ocean, which was recently reported.  New Horizons has already tweaked its orbit to pass near another Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69.  Recently The New Horizons team received the go-ahead for the encounter with this, perhaps 20 mile diameter body.  The flyby will take place on January 1, 2019.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.


Krun Macula

Krun Macula – Krun is the lord of the underworld in the Mandaean religion, and a macula is a dark feature on a planetary surface – is believed to get its dark red color from tholins, complex molecules found across Pluto. Krun Macula rises 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometers) above the surrounding plain – informally named Sputnik Planum – and is scarred by clusters of connected, roughly circular pits that typically reach between 5 and 8 miles (8 and 13 kilometers) across, and up to 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometers) deep.  Image and caption credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute.

Pluto's faults

These odd fault lines are also seen on the Jovian moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus and could be the surface signs of an underground ocean. Credit New Horizons/ NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI.

Here’s more information from EarthSky.

New Horizon's curret position

New Horizon’s location as of yesterday. Heading out to 2014 MU69. Credit