Ready for its close-up: First spacecraft to explore Pluto

Many of us grew up thinking there were nine planets in our solar system: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.

On Monday, scientists said measurements by New Horizons showed Pluto to be 1,473 miles in diameter, a little bigger than earlier estimates.

(NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI via AP). This image received on July 8, 2015 and made available by NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute shows Pluto from the New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) combi…

“It’s easy to imagine you’re seeing familiar shapes in this freakish collection of light and dark features”.

Spangler says this first flyby could give scientists more information on the dwarf planet than ever before. So, he’s thrilled about what the probe might be able to tell us. It was because of the fact that Pluto shares its vicinity in space with other objects, like “plutinos”.

As well as a telescopic camera, the probe also carries a suite of sophisticated instruments for analysing Pluto’s composition and studying its atmosphere. Eris was estimated to be 1,445.3 miles wide, with an accuracy of plus or minus 7.5 miles.

“Now, deep inside Pluto’s sphere of influence, that time has come.”

This graphic illustrates the approximate sizes Pluto’s moons Nix and Hydra in relation to Denver, Colorado.

Called New Horizons, this mission was launched on January 19, 2006; seven months later, Pluto was reclassified as a “dwarf planet” by the worldwide Astronomical Union, sparking a controversial debate. Pluto has been hard to measure with any accuracy from Earth because it is so far away, and its atmosphere creates mirages that can fool ground-based telescopes.

NASA’s New Horizons space probe is due to to make a 30 minute dash past it along with its entourage of five moons today at 13.50 CET It will be the first ever close up view of the frozen world. A strike from a dust particle the size of a grain of rice could destroy the spacecraft, but the risk of such a disaster is low, at around one in 10,000. It is also known as the Kuiper Belt, an unchartered band of planetary debris left over from the formation of the solar system 4.56 billion years ago, according to The Telegraph. No, scientists think there are thousands of other worlds beyond Pluto in the Kuiper Belt.

Why the change? Astronomers started finding many more objects in our solar system that are about the same size as Pluto. “We’re not stopping there, but we’re flying very, very quickly [around 31,000 mph] – getting as close as we’re going to get at noon UTC [8 a.m. ET Tuesday], and after that we just keep going”.

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p style=”text-align: center;”>Ready for its close-up: First spacecraft to explore Pluto

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