Today is historic. Nasa’s New Horizon’s spacecraft, after 9 years of travel, will provide the closet views of Pluto that were not available before this day. The biggest surprises are that Pluto, like Mars, has a reddish hue, it has a heart-shape on it’s surface, and it’s larger than previously thought. New Horizons was launched in 2006. Pluto was dethroned to a dwarf-planet or “plutoid” and officially has an asteroid number. It didn’t qualify as a planet because of its size and orbit. Astronomers had clear qualifications for planets. It has to orbit around the Sun, be large enough to have a round shape, and no other objects can be in its orbit. Today’s evidence from New Horizon’s photos hopefully will reinstate Pluto’s status as a planet.
The probe will continue through the solar system after this quick flypast of Pluto.
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Gorgeous Pluto! The dwarf planet has sent a love note back to Earth via our New Horizons spacecraft, which has traveled more than 9 years and 3+ billion miles. This is the last and most detailed image of Pluto sent to Earth before the moment of closest approach, which was at 7:49 a.m. EDT Tuesday – about 7,750 miles above the surface — roughly the same distance from New York to Mumbai, India – making it the first-ever space mission to explore a world so far from Earth. This stunning image of the dwarf planet was captured from New Horizons at about 4 p.m. EDT on July 13, about 16 hours before the moment of closest approach. The spacecraft was 476,000 miles (766,000 kilometers) from the surface. Images from closest approach are expected to be released on Wednesday, July 15. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI #nasa #pluto #plutoflyby #newhorizons#solarsystem #nasabeyond #science