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Solar System Exploration
Ralph (click to enlarge)


Ralph is a digital imager set to fly on NASA's New Horizons mission to
Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. It must be able to take sharp images in
sunlight levels 1,000 times fainter than what we see on Earth.

Ralph consists of three panchromatic (black-and-white) and four color
imagers inside its Multispectral Visible Imaging Component (MVIC), as
well as an infrared compositional mapping spectrometer called the Linear
Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA). Ralph's suite of seven detectors
- all charge-coupled devices (CCDs), as you'd find in a digital camera -
are fed by a single, sensitive magnifying telescope with a resolution
more than 10 times better than the eye can see.

The entire
package weighs 11 kilograms (about 24 pounds) and draws 6 watts of

Image Credit: Johns Hopkins University Applied
Physics Laboratory and Southwest Research Institute

Credit: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

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Last Updated: 20 Jan 2011