organization:new horizons

  • Call for papers—code::dive

    code::dive 2019 just started its call for papers until the end of 2019-06-30.

    Call for papers by code::dive

    About the conference:

    code::dive 2019 is the 6th edition of the code::dive conference, taking place at Cinema New Horizons at Wrocław, Poland, on 20-21 of November. The conference is organized by Nokia Wrocław.


  • MU69 appears as a bi-lobed baby comet in latest New Horizons images | The Planetary Society

    This is a textbook example of a contact binary. Binary means two objects, of course, and contact means that they’re in contact with each other. Separated binaries are very common in the solar system and especially common in the Kuiper belt. But how can a contact binary form? Is it even plausible for two mutually orbiting bodies to somehow come together so gently and just stick to each other while preserving their originally round shape over billions of years?


  • Sur Pluton, il y a des dunes de glace

    Un «  processus plutonien  » permet aux faibles vents de déplacer des grains de méthane en suspension dans de l’azote sublimé.

    Ce n’est pas le Sahara. C’est même exactement le ­contraire. Pas de sable ici ni de chaleur accablante puisque la température de la plaine Spoutnik, essentiellement constituée de glace d’azote, s’élève à 235 degrés en dessous de zéro. Bienvenue sur Pluton… Nous sommes bien loin de la Terre et pourtant, ainsi que vient de le révéler une étude internationale publiée dans Science du 1er juin, une partie de cette vaste étendue gelée est recouverte par des dunes, comme au Sahara.

    Cette trouvaille est née de l’analyse des données et clichés ­envoyés par la sonde américaine New Horizons, lors de son survol de la planète naine en juillet 2015. « Quand nous avons vu pour la ­première fois les images de New Horizons, nous avons instantanément pensé qu’il s’agissait de dunes, raconte la planétologue américaine Jani Radebaugh, de l’université Brigham Young (Provo, Utah), qui a cosigné l’étude. Mais c’était vraiment surprenant parce que nous savons qu’il n’y a pas grand-chose comme atmosphère » sur Pluton. Car qui dit dunes dit déplacement des grains qui les composent par la voie des airs. Or, sur la planète naine, les airs sont quasi inexistants et la pression atmosphérique est 100 000 fois plus faible que sur la Terre. En guise de vents, on n’a que de légères brises.

    • La publication dans Science (article accessibles, avec des photos fascinantes…)

      Dunes on Pluto | Science

      Methane ice dunes on Pluto
      Wind-blown sand or ice dunes are known on Earth, Mars, Venus, Titan, and comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Telfer et al. used images taken by the New Horizons spacecraft to identify dunes in the Sputnik Planitia region on Pluto (see the Perspective by Hayes). Modeling shows that these dunes could be formed by sand-sized grains of solid methane ice transported in typical Pluto winds. The methane grains could have been lofted into the atmosphere by the melting of surrounding nitrogen ice or blown down from nearby mountains. Understanding how dunes form under Pluto conditions will help with interpreting similar features found elsewhere in the solar system.

      The surface of Pluto is more geologically diverse and dynamic than had been expected, but the role of its tenuous atmosphere in shaping the landscape remains unclear. We describe observations from the New Horizons spacecraft of regularly spaced, linear ridges whose morphology, distribution, and orientation are consistent with being transverse dunes. These are located close to mountainous regions and are orthogonal to nearby wind streaks. We demonstrate that the wavelength of the dunes (~0.4 to 1 kilometer) is best explained by the deposition of sand-sized (~200 to ~300 micrometer) particles of methane ice in moderate winds (<10 meters per second). The undisturbed morphology of the dunes, and relationships with the underlying convective glacial ice, imply that the dunes have formed in the very recent geological past.

      Fig. 1
      New Horizons flyby imagery of landforms attributed to eolian origins.
      All images are unrectified, and thus all scales are approximate. Color-composite MVIC images are shown here for context; dune identification was performed on grayscale LORRI images (shown below).
      (A) Overview of Pluto centered on ~25° latitude, ~165° longitude, showing the locations of images (B) and (E) and Fig. 3A and fig. S3.
      (B) The spatial context for SP and the AIM mountains to the west.
      Insets (C) and (D) show details of the highly regular spatial patterning, which we attribute to eolian dune formation, and two newly identified wind streaks (arrows x), along the margins of the SP/AIM border. Here the dunes show characteristic bifurcations (arrows y) and a superposition with SP’s polygonal patterning (arrow z), suggesting a youthful age for these features.
      (E) Two further wind streaks on the surface (x’), downwind of the Coleta de Dados Colles. These wind streaks, farther from the SP/AIM margin, are oriented differently than those close to the icefield’s edge and are still roughly orthogonal to the dunes there.

  • How NASA’s Mission to Pluto Was Nearly Lost - Issue 60: Searches

    On the Saturday afternoon of July 4, 2015, NASA’s New Horizons Pluto mission leader Alan Stern was in his office near the project Mission Control Center, working, when his cell phone rang. He was aware of the Independence Day holiday but was much more focused on the fact that the date was “Pluto flyby minus 10 days.” New Horizons, the spacecraft mission that had been the central focus of his career for 14 years, was now just 10 days from its targeted encounter with the most distant planet ever explored. Immersed in work that afternoon, Alan was busy preparing for the flyby. He was used to operating on little sleep during this final approach phase of the mission, but that day he’d gotten up in the middle of the night and gone into their Mission Operations Center (MOC) for the upload of the (...)

  • code::dive Trip Report

    Trip report from my first ever C++ #Conference!

    The code::dive conference took place last week in Poland at the beautiful city of Wrocław (pronounced VROWTS-WAF). I had seen excellent videos of talks from previous years and this year promised a roster of distinguished speakers. I had never been to a C++ conference before and beyond the talks I was looking forward to meeting face-to-face many of my online Slack, Twitter and GitHub friends, followers and followees, as well as many of the speakers whose work I’ve been following online through blogs, repos and videos.

    The Venue The two day conference was held at the New Horizons Cinema theater at the center of town. Each day comprised of 5 sessions with 4 simultaneous tracks per session - that’s a total of 40 talks! Being modern cinema (...)

    #C++ #code-dive

  • Passé inaperçu derrière les képis et le soufre.
    Un an après, le top 10 des découvertes de New Horizon sur pluton :

    The complexity of Pluto and its satellites is far beyond what we expected.
    The degree of current activity on Pluto’s surface and the youth of some surfaces on Pluto are simply astounding.
    Pluto’s atmospheric hazes and lower-than-predicted atmospheric escape rate upended all of the pre-flyby models.
    Charon’s enormous equatorial extensional tectonic belt hints at the freezing of a former water ice ocean inside Charon in the distant past. Other evidence found by New Horizons indicates Pluto could well have an internal water-ice ocean today.
    All of Pluto’s moons that can be age-dated by surface craters have the same, ancient age—adding weight to the theory that they were formed together in a single collision between Pluto and another planet in the Kuiper Belt long ago.
    Charon’s dark, red polar cap is unprecedented in the solar system and may be the result of atmospheric gases that escaped Pluto and then accreted on Charon’s surface.
    Pluto’s vast 1,000-kilometer-wide heart-shaped nitrogen glacier (informally called Sputnik Planum) that New Horizons discovered is the largest known glacier in the solar system.
    Pluto shows evidence of vast changes in atmospheric pressure and, possibly, past presence of running or standing liquid volatiles on its surface – something only seen elsewhere on Earth, Mars and Saturn’s moon Titan in our solar system.
    The lack of additional Pluto satellites beyond what was discovered before New Horizons was unexpected.
    Pluto’s atmosphere is blue. Who knew?

  • Ce que révèlent les nouvelles images de Pluton

    Image capturée par la sonde New Horizon alors qu’elle s’éloigne de Pluton, le 14 juillet (publiée le 24 juillet par la NASA).
    Handout / AFP

    Sept heures après être passée au plus près de Pluton le 14 juillet, New Horizons a braqué un de ses instruments optiques sur la planète naine, ce qui a permis de saisir les rayons du Soleil passant à travers son atmosphère. Les images montrent des vapeurs s’élevant jusqu’à 130 kilomètres au-dessus de la surface. Une analyse préliminaire indique deux couches distinctes, une à environ 80 kilomètres d’altitude et l’autre à quelque 50 kilomètres.

    « Ces vapeurs sont un élément-clé pour créer les composants complexes d’hydrocarbone qui donnent à la surface de Pluton sa couleur rougeâtre », a expliqué Michael Summers, un astronome de la mission.

    Les dernières images transmises par New Horizons révèlent aussi des signes de mouvements de glace à la surface de Pluton, qui montrent une activité géologique récente de quelques dizaines millions d’années sur la planète, ce qui a surpris ces scientifiques.

    Dans le nord d’une vaste plaine baptisée « Sputnik Planum », de la taille du Texas, ils ont vu des indices très nets de mouvements d’une plaque de glace de méthane, d’azote ou de monoxyde de carbone dont regorge cette zone. Ces mouvements pourraient se produire actuellement, selon ces chercheurs.
    « De tels phénomènes sont similaires à ceux observés sur la Terre avec les glaciers », a relevé Bill McKinnon, un autre scientifique de New Horizons :
    « Dans la partie la plus au sud de la région en forme de cœur, adjacente à la zone équatoriale qui est sombre et apparemment plus ancienne avec de nombreux cratères, il semblerait que les dépôts de glace soient beaucoup plus récents. Toutes les activités observées sur Pluton tendent à indiquer que cette planète a un noyau dense entouré d’une épaisse couche de glace, ce qui accroît la possibilité de l’existence d’un océan liquide sous cette glace. »

  • New Horizons | NASA

    Animated Flyover of Pluto’s Icy Mountain and Plains
    This simulated flyover of Pluto’s Norgay Montes (Norgay Mountains) and Sputnik Planum (Sputnik Plain) was created from New Horizons closest-approach images. Norgay Montes have been informally named for Tenzing Norgay, one of the first two humans to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Sputnik Planum is informally named for Earth’s first artificial satellite. The images were acquired by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on July 14 from a distance of 48,000 miles (77,000 kilometers). Features as small as a half-mile (1 kilometer) across are visible.

  • Can “New Horizons” Bring a Crowdsourced Message From Earth to Aliens? - Facts So Romantic

    Now that New Horizons has completed its flyby of Pluto, the spacecraft is on a long journey to become the fifth manmade object to leave the solar system. It does so carrying some curious human artifacts: a Florida state quarter, an American flag, and one ounce of the ashes of Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930. One thing New Horizons is not carrying, however, is a message from humanity to extraterrestrial life. Jon Lomberg thinks that’s a missed opportunity. As project director for the One Earth Message, he would like to change that.Lomberg was Carl Sagan’s principal artistic collaborator for a quarter century. He’s also one of the world’s few experts on “deep-time messages”: missives intended for civilizations far removed in time and space. In 1977 he served alongside Sagan as (...)

  • Comme c’est mignon : la première image de Pluton prise par une sonde qui s’en approche. C’est flou mais touchant, non ? #nasa #pluton

    NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft Nears Historic July 14 Encounter with Pluto — ScienceDaily

    NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is three months from returning to humanity the first-ever close up images and scientific observations of distant Pluto and its system of large and small moons.

  • Houston - we need some plutonium - ScienceWonk

    This is where the Pu-238 half-life comes into play – it will take 87.7 years for 50% of the Pu-238 (and for power production to drop by half), so power will drop by only about 0.8% in a year. The Pu-238 half life is short enough to make for a furious decay rate – enough to produce the power needed to run a spaceship – but long enough to last for the decades needed to reach Pluto (the destination of the New Horizons ship) or to linger in orbit around Jupiter and Saturn (a la Galileo and Cassini). Without RTGs powered by Pu-238 we can’t explore much beyond the asteroid belt. This is why the possible exhaustion of our stocks of this nuclide so alarms Adams. According to Adams, #NASA has already delayed or cancelled a number of planned missions to the outer Solar System, including a mission to study Europa, whose oceans are considered a prime candidate as an abode for life outside of Earth. The Department of Energy estimates that an annual outlay of $20 million or less would be enough to supply NASA’s Pu-238 needs, but this amount has not been forthcoming.