A pity that your two comrades did not make it. You are now the only one to see the far outskirts of the cradle of any lifeform as we know it.
It is sad that life's extent will soon shrink to Earth again. During the Jovian incident, you lost too much fuel to make it back now. We warned you but you wanted to reach Pluto at all costs. An irony that the planet named after the God of death will be your final destination.
Rest in peace. Over."
The base-render to this piece is actually fairly old: it dates back to 1 Jan, 2011. Just recently, I rediscovered it on my hard drive and decided to touch it up (read: overpaint). Hope you like it!
Hit download to get a wallpaper-pack of this image. It comes in three sizes:
4:3 — 1600x1200
16:9 — 1920x1080
16:10 — 1920x1200
Smaller monitor? No problem, just pick the right ratio. It should fit without any problems
Facts, tasty facts:
* Original working size: 6000x3750 (Print size)
* Terrain rendered with Vue, post-work in Photoshop
Sources cite the the solar power as something around P ~ 4*1026 W. The intensity at any distance is proportional to the power over the surface of a sphere: I(r) = P/(4*pi*r²). Plugging in Earth's distance to the sun, assuming it is a point light source (which we can certainly do at those distances), yields something around 1500 W/m². Doing the same for Pluto (neglecting its elliptical orbit and just taking the mean) results in an intensity of 0.85 W/m².
For the intensity of the moonlight, I couldn't find any reliable sources in terms of actual intensity. Wikipedia just gives the values in lux, which would be (0.2 - 1) lux. However, they mention the moon being "about 500,000 times fainter than the Sun" which is something we can work with. So the intensity of the moonlight is roughly 1500 W/m² / 5*105 = 0.003 W/m².
The scaling factor f between the intensity at Pluto's surface IP and the moonlight intensity IM is simply the quotient between these two:
f = IP / IM ~ (0.85 W/m²) / (0.003 W/m²) ~ 280.
Turns out that you could probably read a book on Pluto's surface
Hey, good research on your part! Many textbooks got it wrong.
But that would not be enough to make solar power devices practical?
NASA's New Horizons' July 2015 flyby will hopefully gain us many more Plutonian details. I have some thoughts about the mottled orange surface detected by the HST but it's a complete unknown until all the remote sensing data is returned to Earth.
Then again, I don't know the power-consumption of such spacecrafts, so I can't guesstimate the usability of this power source. Coming to think of how weak fully solar-powered cars perform in comparison to such with batteries or even gas, I can just imagine that probes for deep-space-explorations are probably relying on a mix of energy-gathering close to the sun, a hibernation-phase for most of the time, and a nuclear power source or an ion thruster. Sorry, I can't really provide any numbers for that.
In my childhood, I had a book which contained a picture of Pluto consisting of maybe 10 gray pixels. Since that time, I have wondered how it actually looks like. Hubble's photos are certainly a good step into that direction but I'm really expecting a whole lot of the New Horizons-mission!
Landing on other planets is nowadays more a mission for robots anyway. I just calculated the travel-time between Earth and Pluto to be at least 14 years. Not only would it be pretty much physically impossible to carry that many resources up in space to nourish a living being for that long (not to mention the same time for getting back), but the psychological part would play another major role in there. Living with a few others for that long in a small spacecraft definitely cannot be healthy.
Also, it becomes debateable if there is really any worth in sending humans around the solar system. If there are no monetary gains, pretty much nobody would be interested in participating financially. Considering how most planets are just some clumps of (at least what we think as) dead rock floating around in space, this interest will be fairly low.
Nevertheless, the source of the unknown is what fuels our imagination. And Sci-Fi-novels make use of exactly that. The less we know, the more we can fantasize. Even though reality might never give us anything that great, there is still a place for dreaming. And as long as we can do that, there will be hope