“It’s a huge morning, a huge day not just for NASA but for the United States”, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said from NASA headquarters in Washington.
NASA has released the first full-frame high resolution photo of Pluto ever taken.
Confirmation of the mission’s success came 13 hours after the flypast itself and more than nine years since the spacecraft began its epic journey to the outer reaches of our solar system.
But right on time, New Horizons made radio contact with flight controllers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab outside Baltimore, sparking a wave of shouts and applause from an overflow crowd gathered to watch the drama unfold. Pluto is now officially bigger than Eris, one of hundreds of thousands of mini-planets and comet-like objects circling beyond Neptune in a region called the Kuiper Belt.
New Horizons was expected to pass within about 7,500 miles of Pluto at 7:50 a.m. EDT. Assuming New Horizons survives its trip through the Pluto system, we’ll soon have mind-boggling, close-up images of this faraway alien world.
Stern said mission managers will decide later this year where to point New Horizons for the next part of its journey.
“So it’s going to help us understand the formation of our entire solar system“. The spacecraft is loaded with some of science’s most powerful instruments with hopes of gathering new information on the icy planet.
Already New Horizons has shipped back a trove of tantalizing images, showing the dwarf planet in unprecedented detail, as a reddish globe with varied terrain, some ice caps and an oddly flawless heart shape on its surface.
It takes 4½ hours for signals to travel one-way between New Horizons and Earth. The girl’s father was friends with Clyde Tombaugh, the young man just out of college who discovered Pluto in 1930 by using photographic plates. It’s one of the few things you can still follow that literally marks new territory in human history, and it has plenty of awesome movies to go along with it. With that said, space geeks, rejoice! New Horizons’ mission will end in 2026. That’s a long way for the lil data packets that New Horizons sends home to travel.
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