Pluto and Ball Aerospace

pluto_charonYears ago, when I was with the W. M. Keck Observatory out on the Big Island of Hawaii, we took this picture of Pluto and its moon Charon, using “Adaptive Optics.” I am pretty sure that, at the time, this was the highest resolution image of Pluto ever taken.

pluto_ralphNow, unless you have been living under a rock recently, you have no doubt seen the truely amazing images of Pluto taken by the New Horizon spacecraft. These images put mine to shame! That’s what happens when you have a good instrument.


But–I bet you didn’t know this: the instrument that took this image is named “Ralph.” (I don’t mean the acronym R-A-L-P-H. I mean it’s **name** is “Ralph,” after The Honeymooners. It has a spectroscopic counterpart named “Alice.”) And, I am pleased to say that Ralph was built by the finest aerospace company in the business–Ball Aerospace, right here in Boulder, Colorado! Ball has a reputation for building world class instruments for Space Missions.

Now–here’s the really neat part: Ball is also one of the main contractors for JWST, building the mirrors and much of the other hardware for the telescope, and developing the algorithms and software for aligning the telescope after launch. I am proud to be an employee of Ball Aerosappe. And, when I finally depart for this year long bicycle ride, I will be proud to wear the Ball Aerospace logo on the back of my Bike Jersey. Hey–by the way–in just a day or two,  you will be able to order these jersey’s from this Webb site. They are absolutely beautiful. And, when you order a jersey, 5 bucks goes to the STEM Education Coalition!




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