Pluto Science Conference Exceeds Expectations

Compressing eight decades of discoveries into five days, more than 100 scientists met last week at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., to talk everything Pluto – what we already know, what we’d like to know, and what data we expect NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft to deliver after its historic flight past the distant planet in the summer of 2015.

Led by New Horizons Project Scientist Hal Weaver, of APL, the New Horizons team organized the meeting – The Pluto System on the Eve of Exploration by New Horizons: Perspectives and Predictions – from July 22-26 to bring the diverse range of knowledge and views about the Pluto system to one forum. They also invited ideas for ground-based and satellite observations that could supplement the New Horizons encounter, and shared details of the mission and spacecraft with scientists from the U.S. and other countries interested in analyzing the data returned from New Horizons.

“The conference exceeded our expectations,” said Weaver, “with a lot of brainstorming by planetary science experts about what we might see when the New Horizons spacecraft flies by Pluto in 2015.”

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