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Processing Pluto’s Pictures

3 Jun 2016, 18:25 UTC
Processing Pluto’s Pictures
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

This week’s blog comes from Tod Lauer, a research astrophysicist at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Arizona.
New Horizons Principal Investigator: “Lauer! We’ve got to have full resolution! Now!”
Me: “I’m pushing the images as hard as I can – any more and the pixels will blow apart for sure!”
Okay, the New Horizons Pluto encounter didn’t quite play out that way, but the science team really did want to get the most out of all the images of Pluto and its moons that we could, and often, as quickly as we could. I’m Tod Lauer, an astrophysicist who mainly works on stuff far beyond our galaxy. But I also love tough imaging challenges, and I enjoyed working with New Horizons as a sort-of utility image-processing engineer.
A few summers ago I wrote to New Horizons Project Scientist Hal Weaver on a whim to ask about the search for hazards to the spacecraft as it entered Plutonian space. Hal kindly replied with a note describing the capabilities of the New Horizons spacecraft and a report describing the search in detail. New Horizons co-investigator John Spencer, who was leading the hazard detection effort, also joined in. I was incredibly ...

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