If you're going crazy waiting for the first Pluto flyby photos, here's what they'll look like
NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI
Earth's emissary was NASA's robotic New Horizons spacecraft, and it performed a flawless 31,000-mph drive-by science mission that lasted about 30 minutes.
Unfortunately, it's going to take 9 months or possibly up to 16 months to send all of that data back. New Horizons basically has a dial-up-like connection with Earth - and it's likely the images, spectrometry, and other information filled most of the spacecraft's two 8GB memory banks.
It's going to take a long time to send that data home.
Fortunately, NASA asked New Horizons to beam some "first look" photos Wednesday morning and afternoon. So today at 3 p.m. ET we get to see the best-ever views of Pluto and its moons Charon, Hydra, and Nix.
While the world awaits the big reveal, below are the types of images you can expect to see, thanks to some expert sleuthing by the Planetary Society's Emily Lakdawalla:
The key thing is this chart shows the angles and levels of detail we can expect to see.
Take special note at images capped with yellow text. Those are the kind of flyby views NASA pre-programmed New Horizons to send back today:
Here's Lakdawalla's mock-up using Saturn's moon Rhea:here.
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