Ralph Is Ready for Historic Pluto Flyby
PR Newswire – BOULDER, Colo., July 1, 2015 – The Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. Ralph camera aboard the New Horizons mission will provide the closest images we have ever seen of Pluto when the spacecraft arrives at the dwarf planet on July 14.
Ralph, the main “eyes” of New Horizon is designed to help scientists map the surface geology of Pluto and its moons, and investigate Kuiper Belt objects. The small but powerful Ralph weighs only 23 pounds and operates on approximately seven watts, the power of a standard night light. The entire telescope operates around 220 K (-60°F) in the cold darkness of the outer solar system. After a journey of more than nine years, Ralph will capture the first ever close-up snapshots of Pluto when New Horizons passes within 7,000 miles of the tiny, icy dwarf planet.
“We know so little about Pluto that we expect the mission to help answer questions we haven’t even thought to ask,” said Jim Oschmann, vice president and general manager for Ball’s Civil Space and Technology business unit.
One of seven core instruments, Ralph is a visible/near multi-spectral and short wavelength infrared spectral imager that launched aboard the New Horizons spacecraft in 2006. Ralph hosts three panchromatic (black-and-white) and four color imagers with telescopic resolution 10 times better than the human eye. Ralph will take images twice daily as New Horizons approaches, flies past and then looks back at the Pluto system.
New Horizons was built for NASA by Southwest Research Institute and Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.
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