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Pluto is only a ‘day’ away

Pluto and Charon

Pluto and Charon, seen in an image taken July 3, show off the sides that will be facing away from New Horizons when it flies past on July 14. 

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The New Horizons spacecraft will buzz Pluto and its moons in just one day — one Pluto day, that is. The icy world rotates once for every 6 days, 9 hours and 22 minutes on Earth. Starting at 10:28 p.m. Eastern July 7, Pluto will spin around just one more time before New Horizons makes its closest approach on July 14.

The probe officially begins its “encounter phase” today, scrutinizing Pluto with a suite of cameras, spectrometers and particle detectors. To make the most of its time at the dwarf planet, the spacecraft will only occasionally send highlights back to mission control over the next 9 Earth days. By the end of the encounter, just 1 percent of all the data will have been transmitted; the remaining chunk won’t finish downloading until late 2016.

For more on the flyby, read SN's feature, "Rendezvous with Pluto."

Planetary Science

New Horizons recovers from overload, is on track for Pluto flyby

By Christopher Crockett 5:49pm, July 6, 2015
New Horizons transmits the best pictures of Pluto to date shortly before the spacecraft went quiet over the weekend.
Animals,, Biophysics,, Evolution

Why seahorses have square tails

By Susan Milius 2:34pm, July 2, 2015
3-D printed seahorse tails reveal possible benefits of square cross-sections for armor and gripping.
Planetary Science

Pluto may have spots the size of Missouri

By Christopher Crockett 12:10pm, July 2, 2015
Dark spots emerge on the surface of Pluto in recent images from the New Horizons spacecraft.
Molecular Evolution,, Animals

Genetic tweak hints at why mammoths loved the cold

By Tina Hesman Saey 12:00pm, July 2, 2015
An altered temperature sensor helped mammoths adapt to the cold.
Animals,, Evolution

Flatworm can self-fertilize by stabbing itself in the head

By Susan Milius 3:11pm, July 1, 2015
Hermaphroditic flatworms with hypodermic-style mating get sharp with themselves.
Health

Clot-snatching stroke treatment gets the green light

By Ashley Yeager 4:42pm, June 30, 2015
Snatching blood clots from the brain with a wire mesh stent is a new stroke treatment that is now supported in the United States.
Neuroscience

Old fruit flies’ swagger restored with brain chemical dopamine

By Laura Sanders 2:34pm, June 30, 2015
Replenishing the chemical communicator dopamine to a handful of nerve cells makes old flies feel frisky again.
Earth,, Technology

Leap second helps us with the reality of time

By Christopher Crockett 6:00am, June 30, 2015
A leap second will be inserted at the end of the day on June 30.
Neuroscience

Pain may come in his and hers

By Laura Sanders 11:59am, June 29, 2015
Males and females rely on different kinds of cells to carry pain signals, a mouse study suggests.
Astronomy

Advice to a baby planet: Avoid black holes

By Christopher Crockett 11:00am, June 26, 2015
A dust cloud looping around the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole might have once been an infant planet.
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