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Waspie_Dwarf

Assessing Pluto from Afar

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Assessing Pluto from Afar

Worldwide, Ground-based Astronomy Campaign Supports New Horizons

When New Horizons speeds past Pluto in July 2015, its set of sophisticated cameras and sensors won’t be the only high-tech “eyes” trained on the distant planet and its moons. The New Horizons mission team has officially kicked off its two-year-long Earth-based Observation Campaign, an opportunity for astronomers around (and above) the globe to observe Pluto while New Horizons approaches and passes it.

“New Horizons offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to measure in situ the state of the Pluto-Charon system,” said Richard Binzel, a New Horizons co-investigator from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who leads the campaign. “After decades of measuring the system through Earth-based telescopes we know it is very dynamic, and also realize that the New Horizons flyby provides a snapshot of a single moment in the system. We want to establish an extensive context using Earth-based telescopes for the state of the Pluto system at the time of the flyby, including evolving trends in the system for at least one year prior- and post-flyby.”

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