It is now less than a month until New Horizons encounters Pluto, and like a rock star, Pluto is everywhere in the media. Articles, videos, animations, and images are coming so fast that it feels nearly impossible to keep up with them all.
The sizes of Pluto’s four small satellites relative to Pluto are similar to the sizes of the Galilean moons relative to Jupiter. The key difference in the two systems is the Galilean moons orbit one object rather than two.
In early July, New Horizons will begin spectroscopy, which will identify the composition of Pluto’s surface. Then comes mapping of Pluto and Charon, study of atmospheric patterns, and measuring the solar wind, high energy particles, and dust particles in the environment around Pluto.
When I go to JHUAPL next month, there will be a personal sadness I never could have anticipated. I had been rooting for the late Patsy Tombaugh to get her wish of living to see the flyby. She would have been 102. Sadly, she died in January 2012 at age 99.
But I never expected my dad to not make it to the flyby. He would have been 83 and was vibrant and healthy until an unknown illness that we suspect to be myeloma snuck up on him and took him from us on March 19 of this year.