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NASA’s New Horizons probe bound for Pluto is headed for a Jupiter flyby, its camera eyes wide open, in preparation for its swing out towards the fringe of the solar system.
New Horizons began taking black-and-white images of Jupiter and scanning the planet’s icy moon Callisto in the infrared this week as it prepares for a close encounter with the gas giant next month.
“They’re certainly all we could have hoped for,” New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, said Thursday of the new Jupiter images. “We’re still 100 million kilometers out. We’re going to get 50 times closer, but they are very nice.”
The images are expected to be released next week. NASA officials also plan to hold a press briefing on the New Horizons mission on Jan. 18.