With all the WSC race coverage, I don’t want to forget Pluto. Here is a wonderful enhanced-colour image of its moon Charon. Click the picture to go to a higher-res version, and some NASA discussion.
Solar Team Twente recently posted this photograph (by Jérôme Wassenaar) of the almost-100-year-old grandfather of a team member test-driving one of their older solar cars. This is what else the man has seen in his life:
- 1930: Pluto is discovered by Clyde Tombaugh
- 1939: Philips introduces a rotary electric shaver
- 1940–45: World War II
- 1949: Lego is first manufactured
- 1951: television is introduced in the Netherlands
- 1953: the North Sea flood
- 1957: the Soviet Union launches Sputnik 1
- 1962: Philips invents the Compact Cassette tape
- 1966: the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird is introduced (it still holds the aircraft speed record)
- 1969: the USA lands the first man on the moon
- 1977: Apple introduces the Apple II personal computer
- 1982: Philips and Sony produce the first commercial Compact Discs
- 1988: CWI Amsterdam connects to the (TCP/IP) Internet, making the Netherlands the first European country to do so
- 1989: Guido van Rossum at CWI begins the development of the Python language
- 1993: the Mosaic web browser is launched
- 1997: the first Toyota Prius goes on sale in Japan
- 1998: the first MP3 player goes on sale in the USA; also Google is founded
- 2005: the first autonomous vehicles complete the DARPA Grand Challenge; also Solar Team Twente races in the World Solar Challenge for the first time
- 2015: the New Horizons space probe makes the first visit to Pluto, 85 years after Pluto was discovered
Happy 100th Birthday in advance, Opa Mulder!
Images from the New Horizons spaceprobe have been used to produce some wonderful (although incomplete) maps of Pluto (above) and Charon (below). The names are not yet official, although I must say I like the names “Balrog Macula,” “Cthulhu Regio,” and “Skywalker Crater.” Click the pictures to go to the hi-res versions.
The New Horizons spaceprobe (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute artist’s rendering above) is about to reach closest approach to Pluto and Charon. Below are two preliminary pictures of Pluto (left) and Charon (right) taken recently. Better images should be available very soon.
How did we get here? Below, summarising some of my past posts, are four pictures of Pluto taken by New Horizons over the last two years of its journey. There’s nothing like getting close and personal with a camera!
The New Horizons spaceprobe is now about 10 million km from Pluto, and zooming closer every day. A worrying glitch with communications has now been solved. Below is an animated colour image of Pluto and its moon Charon taken by New Horizons last month, but much better pictures can be expected in just a few days.
And here is a NASA/JPL-Caltech artist’s concept of Dawn’s ion thrusters in action. The xenon ions glow blue:
Meanwhile, the New Horizons spaceprobe is getting closer and closer to Pluto:
This means the pictures are getting better. As New Horizons looks towards Pluto and Charon, we are starting to see hints of surface features:
We can even see colours, although the pictures are still very fuzzy: