NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is just 7 days away from its closest approach to Pluto, and this week we are going to look at the amazing images that have already been returned. As the spacecraft gets closer and closer we are going to learn much more about the Planet and its moons.
Before we take a look at the images however a quick update on the health of the vehicle. As most of you probably now 4th July a Safe-Mode event occurred which resulted in a period of lost communications. The vehicle quickly recovered from this by switching to the backup computer and re-establishing communications. The Mission control team reported on Sunday that the fault was caused by a timing issue in the command sequencing planned for the final flyby and because this is the only time this sequence will be used they have resumed normal science operations already.
As the spacecraft has been closing in on the Pluto/Charon system the images it has returned have been getting better and better. Initially the images were captured by the LORRI instrument as that was the only one capable of capturing images at distance. However the Ralph and Alice instruments are now online and have enhanced our view. Over the next week we can expected to see even more detailed images appear, below are a sampling of the images publicly available.
More images are available on the New Horizons Web Site