Tuesday, January 17, 2017

NASA Hosts Facebook Live to Mark Success, Future of New Horizons Mission


NASA Hosts Facebook Live to Mark Success, Future of New Horizons Mission: Members of NASA’s New Horizons team will discuss the achievements of the first encounter with Pluto and look ahead to the mission’s next exploration of the Kuiper Belt during a Facebook Live event at 4 p.m. EST on Thursday, Jan. 19 -- the 11th anniversary of the spacecraft’s launch.

Members of NASA’s New Horizons team will discuss the achievements of the first encounter with Pluto and look ahead to the mission’s next exploration of the Kuiper Belt during a Facebook Live event at 4 p.m. EST on Thursday, Jan. 19 -- the 11th anniversary of the spacecraft’s launch.
The event, live-streamed from New Horizons mission operations at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, will be available on the NASA New Horizons Facebook page at:
The conversation will cover a range of topics, including the top three findings from the spacecraft’s Pluto flyby and what New Horizons is doing on the way to its next science target.
Team members scheduled to appear are:
  • Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters
  • Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator at Southwest Research Institute
  • Glen Fountain, New Horizons (encounter) project manager at APL
  • Kelsi Singer, New Horizons co-investigator at Southwest Research Institute
  • Helene Winters, New Horizons project manager at APL
The team will answer questions from the public during the live event. Media may submit questions before and during the event by emailing Laurie Cantillo at NASA Headquarters, laura.l.cantillo@nasa.gov.                        
New Horizons team members also will be available for interviews through Friday, Jan. 20. Media should contact Michael Buckley in APL Public Affairs at (240) 228-7536 or michael.buckley@jhuapl.edu to arrange interviews with the team.
All data from New Horizons’ flight through the Pluto system in July 2015 has been transmitted safely to Earth, with the last bits arriving last fall. While the team continues to analyze this historic set of images and other materials, it’s planning for the spacecraft’s next encounter – a flyby of Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69, on Jan. 1, 2019. 
For information about NASA’s New Horizons mission, visit:
-end-
Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726 / 202-358-1077
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov / laura.l.cantillo@nasa.gov
Michael Buckley
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.
240-228-7536
michael.buckley@jhuapl.edu
Last Updated: Jan. 17, 2017
Editor: Karen Northon

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter Solstice: A New Cycle Begins


The wonderful aspect of anything cyclic is that at the end, we always return to the starting point. For Earth’s solar year, many consider that starting point to be Sun’s nadir in the Northern Hemisphere, the paradoxical darkest night that is also the symbolic birthday of the Sun.

For space and astronomy, it has been a tremendous year. New Horizons finished sending back all data taken during the Pluto flyby, and the studying of that data has only just begun. Pluto appears to be one of the solar system’s many water worlds—planets and spherical moons with subsurface liquid oceans that could potentially harbor life.

The abundance of these water worlds in our solar system has been an ongoing theme of discovery this year.

We’ve learned about Ceres, Enceladus, Europa, Titan, and Mars; we’ve discovered a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, one of three stars that comprise the nearest star system to our own, and we’ve continued to find more strange and unusual exoplanets in places many thought they could not exist.

But in the broader world, it has been a difficult year. Much attention has been given to those things that divide us even as our own planet has passed dangerous climate thresholds that should be uniting us in an effort to preserve its habitability for humanity and for its many other species.

Winter Solstice is a time for transcending divisions, a time that naturally brings us together because we all experience the cold and dark. It reminds us that our lives and our fates are intertwined with that of our home planet, that whatever we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves.

And just as we all experience the cold and the dark, we all long for the warmth and the light. For thousands of years, this has been considered a time of miracles because collectively, we experience the greatest miracle of all, the renewal of our source of life—the Sun—from its weakest point.

Just as the Moon appears to grow from nothing to crescent to half to gibbous to full, then wane back through those phases to the point of disappearance, so the Sun appears to go through a cycle of waxing to its prime, then waning back to near disappearance. In that moment of transition from dark to new, a new cycle, whether month (lunar) or year (solar) begins.

Many astronauts who have had the good fortune to observe the Earth from space emphasize the powerful, profound experience that is. Out there, no national or ethnic boundaries are visible, just one beautiful blue, fragile marble floating in the darkness.

Until most of us get the chance to venture to space, the closest we can come to this experience are beautiful pictures and videos and experiences like the seasonal markers to bring us together, to remind us that we are all one planet.

Here is hoping that this new year that starts as the Sun begins waxing again is one in which we genuinely experience, appreciate, and value that awareness.


Happy Solstice!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

DPS/EPSC update on New Horizons at the Pluto system and beyond

DPS/EPSC update on New Horizons at the Pluto system and beyond: Last week's Division for Planetary Sciences/European Planetary Science Congress meeting was chock-full of science from New Horizons at Pluto.