Artist’s impression of New Horizons Spacecraft
Just 112 years after the Wright Brothers succeeded in getting the first airplane into the sky, a grand piano-sized space ship from Earth this week reached within a cosmic millimetre of the dwarf planet Pluto, sending vivid pictures of 11,000-foot ice mountains and a bright heart-shaped swath of terrain on the surface. What was just a blurry dot only weeks ago was suddenly a vast, dynamic world – 1,472 miles wide in diameter and featuring tall mountains and a baffling absence of craters. It took 9 ½ years for the New Horizons space craft to make the three-billion mile journey, which seems sure to provide invaluable clues to how planets are formed and even the origins of life. The New Horizons mission and the journey to Pluto remind us that despite the world’s woes, from terrorism to hunger to greed to war, we human beings are an extraordinary species. And we live in a wild and wondrous universe.
Please enjoy these pictures of Pluto, taken by a human-made machine that travelled a decade through space to explore a new horizon.
New Horizons team at NASA elebrates the close-up pictures of the Pluto fly-by