The Last Planetary Flyby You Will Ever See

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Just-cos-Im-small---Pluto-014Correction:  the last dwarf-planet flyby you will see in your lifetime of a dwarf planet that used to be a planet.

Some on staff here at Amazing Stories have had the privilege to grow up (and be interested in) humankind’s first steps into space.  And some of us are even old enough to remember most, if not all of them.

Tomorrow, July 14th, will see the New Horizons spacecraft make its closest approach to Pluto, the only planet that wasn’t visited by Voyager II’s extraordinary tour of the outer planets in the 1970s.

Since those days, Pluto has been down-graded to the status of a dwarf planet, but that hasn’t diminished our interest or desire to get a close up of the mysterious denizen of the outer reaches of our solar system.

NASA has a full blown program online so that everyone can experience this extraordinary and uncommon event:

NASA Pluto New Horizons July 13 Media Briefing Time Change, Media Center Open

NASA will provide comprehensive television, Internet and social media coverage this week of the agency’s New Horizons spacecraft historic July 14 flyby of Pluto. The time for the flyby preview news briefing on NASA Television Monday, July 13 has moved up 30 minutes, and now will start at 10:30 a.m. EDT.

The schedule for events coverage is subject to change based on real-time operations. The list of additional news briefings is available online.

NASA’s Pluto New Horizons media center at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, is open from 1-7 p.m. today for media to obtain credentials for this week’s coming activities. APL is the mission control center for New Horizons. The media center number is 240-228-8532.

The media center also will be open from 7 a.m. to midnight on Monday; 5 a.m. to midnight on Tuesday; 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 15; and 7 a.m. to noon on Thursday, July 16. Hours of operation are subject to change.

Credentials must be picked up in person and valid photo identification must be shown. Non-US citizens must bring their passport and visa or a permanent resident alien registration card.

Visitor and logistics information is available online at:

http://www.jhuapl.edu/MediaResources/

For NASA TV schedules, satellite coordinates, and links to streaming video, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

The public can follow the path of the spacecraft in coming days in real time with a visualization of the actual trajectory data, using NASA’s online site:

http://eyes.jpl.nasa.gov/eyes-on-pluto.html

To enter where you live and tell you at your local time what the equivalent brightness is as noon on Pluto visit:

http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/plutotime

To examine a 3-D model of the New Horizons spacecraft and download a .stl file for 3-D printing, visit:

http://nasa3d.arc.nasa.gov/detail/new-horizons

Follow the New Horizons mission on Twitter and use the hashtag #PlutoFlyby to join the conversation. Live updates will be available on the missionFacebook page.

For more information on the New Horizons mission, including fact sheets, schedules, video and images, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/newhorizons

and

http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/plutotoolkit.cfm

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