Tuesday, July 14, 2015

NASA's New Horizons reaches Pluto - WATCH LIVE NOW

Started on Jul 14, 2015
The NASA New Horizons spacecraft had its closest encounter with Pluto on Tuesday after a nine-a-half-year journey to the dwarf planet. Watch NASA's live coverage here.

Today's Pluto Pictures from NASA

after a nine-year journey of more than 5 billion KM, NASA has released new images of Pluto and its moon Charon. 
The probe whizzed by the dwarf planet at 9:49pm (AEST) on Tuesday (7/14/15)

"This is truly a hallmark in human history," said NASA's head of the science mission directorate, John Grunsfeld.
Alan Stern, the mission's principal investigator, said it was "a moment of celebration because... we have completed the initial reconnaissance of the solar system, an endeavour started under president Kennedy more than 50 years ago, continuing today under president Obama."
Mr Stern also said it was very fitting that Tuesday marked the completion of New Horizons' exploration of Pluto, as it was exactly 50 years ago on that day that the first spacecraft flew to Mars.
Missions operation manager Alice Bowman said she had to "pinch herself" when she thinks about what they have accomplished.
Scientists confirmed the existence of a polar ice cap on Pluto, and found nitrogen escaping from its atmosphere. 

New Horizons' most recent reports show the dwarf planet to be 2,370 KM across, which is slightly larger than was estimated when the planet was downgraded from planet status to a dwarf planet.
New Horizons is the fastest spacecraft ever launched and is carrying an ounce of ashes of American astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto.
The mission launched in 2006, the same year that Pluto was downgraded to "dwarf planet" status due to the celestial body's small size and New Horizons is the first spacecraft to fly past Pluto.
The probe's seven scientific instruments aim to reveal details of the surface, geology and atmosphere of Pluto and its five moons.

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