On Tuesday July 14 the New Horizons passed the dwarf planet Pluto in the Kuiper Belt, capturing our first images of an object named for an underworld god but until now perhaps best known as the name of a cartoon dog.
What is so exciting about Pluto? British Professor of Planetary and Space Sciences Monica Grady answers in Up close with Pluto.
UPDATE July 17: NASA released a video of images from Pluto:
Anything and everything on NASA’s New Horizons site.
“Clyde Tombaugh will pass within 7,800 miles of the icy world he discovered 85 years ago. His ashes are flying on NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft on humanity’s first journey to Pluto.” — Associated Press on NY Times site.
“My other vehicle is on its way to Pluto.” — Brett Gladman is the Canada Research Chair in planetary astronomy at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, in Q&A: What New Horizons could tell us about Pluto and the Kuiper Belt
“On the morning of March 14, 1930, Falconer Madan, a former librarian at the University of Oxford’s library, was reading a newspaper article about the discovery to his 11-year-old granddaughter, Venetia Burney, over breakfast, David Hiskey explained for Mental Floss in 2012. Madan mused that he wondered what the planet might be called, and Venetia chimed in, “Why not call it Pluto?” The name of an underworld god seemed appropriate for a celestial body orbiting the cold, dark reaches of space.” — Smithsonian, How Pluto Got Its Name
“(US presidential contender Jeb) Bush’s quarter doesn’t quite have the probe to itself: New Horizons is also carrying a small container of the ashes of Clyde Tombaugh, the American astronomer who discovered Pluto. Other probes have curious payloads of their own: NASA’s Juno probe, which will reach Jupiter in 2016, is carrying three LEGO figurines depicting the Roman king of the gods for whom the planet is named, his wife, Juno, and astronomer Galileo Galilei. And according to Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign, his class ring from Texas A&M University has been to space, carried on the Space Shuttle by fellow Aggie Michael Fossum. Jeb Bush’s pocket change is currently hurtling past Pluto, Politico.
“A remarkable half-century of planetary reconnaissance will end on 14 July, when the New Horizons spacecraft swoops past Pluto. The flyby comes 50 years to the day after Mariner 4 flew past Mars and returned the first image from another planet. Stamatios “Tom” Krimigis, the former head of the space department at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, had a hand in both missions, as well as in visits to all the other worlds in the solar system. An expert in planetary magnetospheres, Krimigis has seen it all. But he is not yet done: His instrument on Voyager 1 is now plumbing interstellar space, and he is planning on being a part of Solar Probe Plus, a spacecraft that will visit the sun’s corona.” — Pluto caps one man’s odyssey, Science Magazine
Last but not least, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking congratulates the New Horizons team: It’s 15 years since the first successful mission to Mars. Now the solar system will be further opened up to us…. the revelations of New Horizons may help us to understand better how our solar system was formed. We explore because we are human and we want to know.”
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