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Pluto and Charon wow in latest pics, and Philae responds!


Scott Sutherland
Meteorologist/Science Writer

Friday, July 10, 2015, 5:12 PM - Just four days away from New Horizons' Pluto-system flyby and these amazing worlds are coming into sharper focus. Plus, the Rosetta makes solid contact with little Philae, renewing hope for the mission!

Awesome New Views of Pluto and Charon

There's plenty of excitement in the space community these days, leading up to the July 14 flyby of the Pluto system. New images are being released from the New Horizons spacecraft, nearly as soon as they are downloaded from space, and a few of the latest are really wowing everyone.


Colourized images of Pluto and Charon, taken on July 8, 2015, revealing more detail than has been seen so far. Credits: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI


Black and white composite of zoomed images of each body. Credits: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI


Latest unprocessed image, from July 9, 2015. Credits: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI

The pair are looking better and better with each update, and there's just four days to go!

Philae Responds, Activates CONSERT Instrument

After the disappointing update on Wednesday, that solid contact still had not been established with Rosetta's comet lander, the team at the German Aerospace Center has some great news!

According to the ESA Rosetta blog:

The Philae lander communicated with the Rosetta orbiter again between 19:45 and 20:07 CEST on 9 July 2015 and transmitted measurement data from the COmet Nucleus Sounding Experiment by Radiowave Transmission (CONSERT) instrument. Although the connection failed repeatedly after that, it remained completely stable for those 12 minutes. “This sign of life from Philae proves to us that at least one of the lander’s communication units remains operational and receives our commands,” said Koen Geurts, a member of the lander control team at DLR Cologne.

There's no explanation, yet, as to why Philae has had difficulty communicating with Rosetta since it woke up, however this is great news and gives plenty of hope that the mission on the surface of Comet 67P can continue!

Sources: NASA | ESA

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