Today’s post is written by Alex Parker, a research scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, working on NASA’s New Horizons mission.
Nature is a common theme in Canadian literature, with desolate, remote landscapes often playing a role. It should come as no surprise, then, that Canada had a hand in writing the latest chapter in the story of Pluto, the most desolate and remote landscape ever explored.
To mark the first Canada Day (July 1) since the Pluto flyby, I wanted to share some of the ways that Canadian efforts have supported the New Horizons mission to Pluto and beyond.
A number of New Horizons team members are from Canada or were trained there in one way or another. I studied for my PhD at the University of Victoria in British Columbia; my PhD was in astrophysics, a field in which Canada is renowned as a global leader. Canada’s national partnership in the twin 8-meter Gemini observatories allowed me to pursue research in planetary astronomy, pushing the limits of what can be done with ground-based astronomical imaging without adaptive optics to explore the properties of binary systems in the Kuiper Belt. It was this work that prepared ...