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Pluto Close Up

June 24, 2015

How clear will Pluto’s next snapshots be?

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

newhorizons_at_pluto_4-14-15

Artist’s depiction of the New Horizon spacecraft at Pluto. (NASA/JHUAPL)

Getting ready for Pluto’s close-up. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

On July 14th, the New Horizons spacecraft will make its closest approach to Pluto and Science Update listener Michael Lewis emailed us to ask how clear a picture we’ll be getting. New Horizons chief scientist Andy Cheng at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory expects high resolution for the portion of the planet facing the spacecraft.

ANDY CHENG (Johns Hopkins University University Applied Physics Laboratory):

The best resolution we’re going to get is actually better than a hundred meters.

HIRSHON:

Revealing features about the size of a soccer field.

CHENG:

One of the things we will also do is after closest approach, after we go by, we’ll turn around, look back at Pluto and look for hazes and clouds in the atmosphere.

HIRSHON:

Cheng says they’ll be posting pictures on line just hours after they’re received. If you have a science question, call us at 1-800-WHY-ISIT or email us from our website, scienceupdate.com. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

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