5 September 2017 Operation and performance of the New Horizons Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager during the Pluto encounter
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Abstract
The Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) is a high-resolution imaging instrument on the New Horizons spacecraft. LORRI collected over 5000 images during the approach and fly-by of the Pluto system in 2015, including the highest resolution images of Pluto and Charon and the four much smaller satellites (Styx, Nix, Kerberos, and Hydra) near the time of closest approach on 14 July 2015. LORRI is a narrow field of view (0.29°), Ritchey-Chrétien telescope with a 20.8 cm diameter primary mirror and a three-lens field flattener. The telescope has an effective focal length of 262 cm. The focal plane unit consists of a 1024 × 1024 pixel charge-coupled device (CCD) detector operating in frame transfer mode. LORRI provides panchromatic imaging over a bandpass that extends approximately from 350 nm to 850 nm. The instrument operates in an extreme thermal environment, viewing space from within the warm spacecraft. For this reason, LORRI has a silicon carbide optical system with passive thermal control, designed to maintain focus without adjustment over a wide temperature range from -100 C to +50 C. LORRI operated flawlessly throughout the encounter period, providing both science and navigation imaging of the Pluto system. We describe the preparations for the Pluto system encounter, including pre-encounter rehearsals, calibrations, and navigation imaging. In addition, we describe LORRI operations during the encounter, and the resulting imaging performance. Finally, we also briefly describe the post-Pluto encounter imaging of other Kuiper belt objects and the plans for the upcoming encounter with KBO 2014 MU69.
Conference Presentation
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S. J. Conard, H. A. Weaver, J. I. Núñez, H. W. Taylor, J. R. Hayes, A. F. Cheng, D. J. Rodgers, "Operation and performance of the New Horizons Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager during the Pluto encounter", Proc. SPIE 10401, Astronomical Optics: Design, Manufacture, and Test of Space and Ground Systems, 104010W (5 September 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2274351; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2274351
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