Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM


OLKIN, Cathy, Department of Space Studies, Southwest Research Institute, 1050 Walnut Street, Suite 300, Boulder, CO 80302,

The New Horizons spacecraft is well on its way to Pluto with science observations of the system beginning in January 2015 for a closest approach on July 14, 2015. This mission will revolutionize our understanding of Pluto and its moons with its suite of in-situ and remote sensing instrumentation. New Horizons carries two visible wavelength imagers: a wide-field, medium-resolution, panchromatic and color camera and a higher-resolution panchromatic camera. In addition, the instrument suite contains a UV mapping spectrometer, a short-wave infrared mapping spectrometer, and three in situ instruments to measure the plasma and dust environments.

This paper will discuss the anticipated science return of New Horizons with a focus on the geology and composition of Pluto and its moons. The mission will produce global panchromatic, color and composition maps of Pluto and Charon with the best resolution on the encounter hemisphere. In addition, there are targeted observations of Nix, Hydra, Kerberos and Styx in the visible and infrared to give a full understanding of the Pluto system.

On approach, we will be observing Pluto over many rotations from January to August. Observations of Pluto near closest approach are planned with a resolution of better than 0.5 km/pix in panchromatic visible light and 0.64 km/pix in color. We will be able to produce hemispheric maps of Pluto with a resolution of 6.0 km/pixel from our infrared spectrometer. In addition to these measurements, high-resolution regional images will be taken that achieve 0.09 km/pix in the visible and 2.7 km/pix in the infrared on Pluto. Stereo imaging is planned to determine topography. This will transform our vision of Pluto from a barely resolved point of light to a fully developed world.