Dark Side of the Pluto revealed in new NASA image from New Horizons mission

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Oh, this is just scratching the surface of Pluto’s dark side. Wait until you see what he did when Chip 'n Dale let their guard down.


Of the many things this image brings up in my head, one is to wonder why it’s taking so long for us (humanity) to get a spacecraft in the sky to deliver real-time, HD video of Earth. IIRC, NASA is set to do this next year, but still…

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I don’t think there’s that much need to see global-scale events in the visible bands at 60fps (or even 24). Furthermore, if you’re doing science you’d want uncompressed images, and that’d be a rather high bandwidth for something with little scientific value. In fact, having that much HD content would be a negative, as the signals would be stored within a huge amount of data.

There is no dark side of Pluto, really. As a matter of fact it’s all dark.


Speak for yourself–I’d LOVE to see it at that resolution.

In any case, looks like it’s already happened Deep Space Climate Observatory. It’s not real-time viewing, but the spacecraft sits at the L1 point and delivers an image of the Earth every 12-36 hours at a 1024x1024 resolution.

As for the science, it measures the solar wind emanating from the Sun, the “irradiance of the sunlit face of the Earth”, and it’s got the EPIC camera that’s used for various science information:

The Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) takes images of the sunlit side of Earth for various Earth sciences purposes, in 10 different channels from ultraviolet to near infrared. Ozone and aerosol levels will be monitored, as well as cloud dynamics, properties of the land and vegetations.
Launched by SpaceX, here's a shot of the thing being delivered to the L1 point:

I assume they had to use flash photography to get the exposure right.


“Meanwhile, this ship arranges its own eclipses.”

According to the Bad Astronomer, it’s not that dark:

Today’s BAFact:
From Pluto, the Sun is fainter than it is from Earth, but still can be 450x brighter than the full Moon.

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Hey, I didn’t say I wouldn’t love to see it!

You wondered aloud why it was “taking so long for humanity to… deliver real-time HD video of Earth,” and I simply pointed out that streaming 50,000,000-498,000,000 bytes per second (2.24GB/s for UHD) of visible-band telemetry is… overkill from L1. Especially when these solar/global processes that are ostensibly being monitored for changes happen at a much lower granularity than 1/60th of a second.

EPIC, which is indeed very exciting, is streaming at… (back of napkin) 243 bytes per second.

Anyways, for your space video fix, I recommend checking out this link, and especially this live broadcast from ISS.


Was I the only person whose mind was blown when I followed the link and discovered that Brian May, lead guitarist of Queen, holds a doctorate in astrophysics?



The links are appreciated and the ISS broadcast is one I’ve enjoyed greatly–it’s one of the (many) reasons I’d love to see a whole-earth shot, and given the popularity and impact of the “blue marble” photograph I’m a little surprised it hasn’t been accomplished yet.
As for the data rate, I was reading this morning about the 2kbps (!) data rate of New Horizons out at Pluto and wondering how much slower it will be when it’s passing those KBOs way, way out there…(back of napkin)…like eleventy-twelve gazillion miles away!!

need <==> want


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It gets mentioned in BB articles at least a couple times a year.

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