Tuesday, July 14, 2015

After nine years in space, New Horizons has reached Pluto!

We should be getting a lot more photos over the next weeks, but these are spectacular for the first ones!  I can't wait to hear what the planetary scientists say about all these features.  My first questions are, where are all the impact craters?  Has this body undergone resurfacing in the past?  How?  When?  And if not, how did Pluto avoid all the collisions during the Late Heavy Bombardment that blasted all the other rocky worlds in the solar system?  Is it so far out that it escaped that fate?  What caused the huge variations in lightness and darkness on the surface?  Why is Pluto so much lighter than Charon?

I can't wait to see more photos, including some of the snaps of the other, tiny moons; Hydra, Styx, Nix, and Kerberos.  Those will be fun to see.

This is just so amazing.  For so long, Pluto was just a very faint dot of light that we could only imagine what it is like.  Then, with Hubble and quality ground based telescopes, we saw that Pluto was actually a disc with some light and dark patches.  And it had some moons!  I just felt like a kid again seeing this picture.

This is what makes me feel proud to be an American.  We actually still have the curiosity and the wherewithal to actually go out and find out things that we don't know about.  No one is going to get rich off this information.  It's that we know something about the tiny bit of the universe we inhabit that we didn't know before.

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