The New Horizons spacecraft has been in a half-awake state for most of its 8-year trip, and it’s been fully hibernating since August 29. Yesterday, it woke itself up at 3:00 pm EST (spacecraft like to sleep in, apparently), and sent a signal back to Earth indicating that it was up, getting dressed, and fixing a balanced breakfast. That signal took four and a half hours to reach Earth, even though it moved at the speed of light. New Horizons is now nearly 3 billion miles away from Earth, and closing in on Pluto as it travels nearly a million miles a day.
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If you happened to encounter some aliens, what would you say (presuming they can translate/understand your human language)? Maybe the first thing would be, “Please don’t kill me,” but after a while you’d probably have a lot of questions about their civilization and technology, and what took them so long to make contact with humans. NASA has been asking itself the same question, especially as its New Horizons spacecraft prepares to finish studying Pluto next summer and head deeper into space. When it embarks on that journey, it will take with it a message for whomever or whatever it may encounter.
The message will stream to the craft next year, after it wraps up its Pluto mission. The message isn’t exactly something you could stick into a bottle — it’s really a digital record of sounds and images that would give its recipient an indication of what life on planet Earth is like. The information will resemble the Golden Record carried by the Voyager probes which were launched in 1977, and which are currently traveling through interstellar space. Both spacecraft carry messages on 12-inch, gold-plated copper disks. The contents were selected carefully by a committee that included Carl Sagan, and they represent a cultural cross-section of life on Earth: images, sounds, 55 greetings in different languages, and music.
Pluto may not be an official planet anymore—revoking a celestial body’s planet hood still seems a bit harsh—but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth taking a closer look at, and that’s exactly where NASA’s New Horizon probe is headed. The craft is still a year or so away from arriving at its final destination, but it’s already sending back impressive footage and breaking existing records.
The craft isn’t scheduled to be close enough to close up shots of the dwarf planet and its largest moon Charon until July 14 of next year, but while it’s on the way, the team at NASA has pointed its telescope at the target and captured this film of the two bodies in orbit. Comprised of a dozen images taken from July 19 through July 24, this clip shows the moon revolve around the dwarf planet in a way we’ve never seen before.
Boom! Studios has built its reputation with a mix of original series and a slew of adapted licensed properties such as Planet of the Apes, Farscape, RoboCop, Space: 1999, and more. Earlier this year, they put out a comic sequel to John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China, a collaboration between Carpenter himself and Eric Powell, creator of The Goon. Now it seems Boom! is returning to the Carpenter/Kurt Russell well with an upcoming series based on Escape from New York, and they’ve released the above teaser image, which was also drawn by Powell, suggesting he may be returning for that series as well.
There are no further details about the series available just yet. My first guess would be that it would be a sequel and focus on the further adventures of Snake Plissken after the events of Escape from LA, but it could just as well be a straight adaptation of the original Carpenter movie. I’d certainly prefer the former; we’ve already seen that story told perfectly well on the big screen, so revisiting it again in comics form just seems kind of pointless some 30+ years after the movie’s release. There is, however, that Escape from New York reboot movie trilogy that’s in the works, so revisiting the old material certainly isn’t outside the realm of possibility.
I expect more information will come to light out of Comic-Con later this week, so stay tuned. In the meantime, check out this week’s new science fiction comics below!
Some of you might have woken up on April 1 to find that Pluto had been reinstated as a planet. Of course, it wasn’t true — neither was the rumor that Richard Branson bought Pluto, thank the stars. But here’s some information about Pluto that appears to be totally legit: astronomers now think it has a subsurface ocean.
A new study proposes that, after a massive object smashed into Pluto, creating its moon Charon, the heat released by the collision warmed up a region in Pluto’s interior, creating an ocean that may still be there and may actually exist in liquid form. It seems crazy to think that a planet so far from the sun could have liquid water, but come on, it’s the Cosmos — strange and crazy are its bailiwick.
Pluto may not be a full-fledged planet anymore, but that doesn’t mean we’re not interested in checking it out, even if it is quite a hike. It’s about 3 billion miles, one way, if you were wondering. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft set off for the dwarf planet back in 2006, and now that it’s 2014 we can finally say that next year, we’ll have our first close-up glimpse of the gatekeeper to our Solar System.
Last year, New Horizons’ telescopic camera LORRI (Long Range Reconnaissance Imager) got its first image of Charon, Pluton’s largest moon. You can see it just to the upper left of Pluto, which is the bright spot in the middle. But don’t worry, the images will get better as the craft gets closer. When this was taken, New Horizons was still 550 million miles away. In the mean time check out the first images of Charon from 1978 when it was first discovered.