Pluto’s Closeup Will Be Awesome Based On Jupiter Pics From New Horizons Spacecraft

A montage of images taken of Jupiter and its moon Io (foreground) by the New Horizons mission in 2007. Jupiter is shown in infrared wavelengths while Io is close to true-color. On top of Io is an eruption from the volcano Tvashtar. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

A montage of images taken of Jupiter and its moon Io (foreground) by the New Horizons mission in 2007. Jupiter is shown in infrared wavelengths while Io is close to true-color. On top of Io is an eruption from the volcano Tvashtar. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

New Horizons, you gotta wake up this weekend. There’s so much work ahead of you when you reach Pluto next year! The spacecraft has been sleeping quietly for weeks in its last great hibernation before the dwarf planet close encounter in July. On Saturday (Dec. 6), the NASA craft will open its eyes and begin preparations for that flyby.

How cool will those closeups of Pluto and its moons look? A hint comes from a swing New Horizons took by Jupiter in 2007 en route. It caught a huge volcanic plume erupting off of the moon Io, picked up new details in Jupiter’s atmosphere and gave scientists a close-up of a mysterious “Little Red Spot.” Get a taste of the fun seven years ago in the gallery below.

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