Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Pluto and Cthulhu and Balrog. Oh My!

New Horizons phones home about Pluto:

LAUREL, Md.Signals from a spacecraft 3 billion miles away swept over Earth on Tuesday, confirming that NASA's New Horizons probe survived its history-making Pluto flyby. 

 The radio signals were received by a Deep Space Network antenna in Spain four and a half hours after they were sent out from the spacecraft at the speed of light, and a full 13 hours after the probe made its close pass. But they electrified hundreds of VIPs, journalists and Pluto fans here at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory as if the main event had just happened.


The transmission not only assured the team that the piano-sized spacecraft was in good health, nine and a half years after its launch, but it also suggested that groundbreaking images and observations of Pluto and its moons would be streaming in from New Horizons for months to come.

 The flyby actually took place at 7:49 a.m. ET Tuesday, with New Horizons traveling at more than 30,000 mph (50,000 kilometers per hour) and coming within 7,750 miles (12,500 kilometers) of the dwarf planet's mottled surface. But the spacecraft was so busy making observations that it couldn't turn its antenna back toward Earth to send the all-clear signal until hours later.

 To mark the occasion, NASA released a colorized view of the dwarf planet that was sent back to Earth before New Horizons went out of contact on Monday night. The picture featured the dwarf planet's bright heart-shaped region as well as the head of a dark "whale" feature. It was part of a "fail-safe" series of observations that were made just in case the spacecraft suffered a catastrophic failure during the flyby.

Actually, not "real slow."  New Horizons is traveling at 30,000 miles per hour.

Eyes on Pluto

Places on Pluto are Being Named for Your Darkest Imaginings


Infidel753 said...

I'm still waiting for the Republicans to denounce this triumph as a Chamberlain-style Obama cover-up, and demand an invasion of Pluto.

(Trump won't, though. As a Plutocrat, it's his home planet.)

Shaw Kenawe said...

The usual bottom-feeders are running around like Chicken Littles: Obama is Neville Chamberlain! Obama would have made friends with Adolf Hitler! Extremist reactions to something they haven't studied or read. I reserve my judgement, since I don't know the details.

Marc McKenzie said...

@Infidel753--Hah! It would not surprise me in the slightest. Although to be honest, I was half-expecting to spot a Mi-Go city on Pluto's surface (shout-out to Lovecraft's "The Whisperer In Darkness").

Also, try to track down Clifford Simak's 1973 short story "Construction Shack", a story about the eerie discovery made by the first manned mission to Pluto.

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

Micky would be pleased.

Last night while trying to fall sound asleep, a voice came to me and said: "There's other intelligent life in the Universe."
"Why haven't they contacted us," I asked?
"Because they're intelligent," the voice replied.

Thus, on good authority, I happened to know of extra-terrestrial beings whose abilities far surpass those of humanoids (listed in alphabetazoid disorder):

Amoeboid Zingatularians
Brontitallians (evolved into birds to render shoe shops obsolete)
Dolphins (above humans but below mice in intelligence)
Hingefreel (invented spaceships powered by bad news - the only thing that travels faster than light)
Hrarf-Hrarfy (only known race to actually to enjoy hangovers)
Silastic Armourfiends of Striterax
Strangulous Stilettans of Jajazikstak
… as examples.

I’ll save my story about the mattress people for another time.

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

Next day ...

Since it takes over 4 hours for the New Horizons signal to reach Earth, I can now report on the newly discovered mutterings of the Mattress People who complain about dirty humanoids barging into their bedroom space:

You humanoids are nothing more than havens for dander and body lice and nocturnal emissions. And let’s not forget the mess they made of their own planet – full of plastics, PCBs, space junk and other craperoo left behind wherever they go. Be gone, you filthy critters of planet dEarth!

Suddenly the normally docile and dimwitted Zem piped in and globbered:

Vogonci. Ne bi ni prstom makli ak ni da spase vlastitu baku od pro_rdljive bubozdrobne zvijeri s Traaala bez nare enja u tri primjerka, preporu_eno poslanih s povratnicom, poslanih natrag, tra_enih, izgubljenih, prona_enih, podnesenih na javnu raspravu, ponovno izgubljenih i kona no pokopanih u mekom mo varnom tlu i recikliranih kao upalja!

As you can see, meeting aliens in space is a lot like partisanship on Earth, and it always boils down to a matter of us versus Zem. Of course, there’s only one way to deal with Mattress People. You gotta be FIRM! (and teach them to hold their Temper-Pedic).

Shaw Kenawe said...

Or as my favorite aunt used to say: "If we don't see you in the spring, we'll see you in the mattress."