NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has brought back photos of Pluto on the 109th birthday of Clyde Tombaugh who is the man that discovered the dwarf planet in 1930. New Horizons was approximately 203 kilometers from Pluto which is over 126 million miles when these photos were taken. The images are indeed low resolution due to the distance.
Despite the blurry nature of the photos, they still represent all of the new information that is brought to life about Pluto. The spacecraft is said to be at its closest distance to Pluto ever by July of 2015. Annette Tombaugh who is the daughter of the Pluto discoverer said that her father would be thrilled by all of the new information. CNet said that her father would have been joyful about the new photos and finding out more about the planet he discovered. She wishes that he would be alive today to take part in the mission.
Hundreds more photos are going to be taken of the dwarf planet in the coming months and they will help Mew Horizons in terms of plotting its course or even making corrections to its current path. New Horizons is confident that they will gain additional details about Pluto as they get closer to the dwarf planet. Images will get larger and larger and Pluto will no longer appear as a tiny light.
Pluto’s largest moon, Charon, rotating in its 6.4-day long orbit was also depicted in the photos. Unfortunately, Pluto’s smaller moons were not able to be captured. It is known that Pluto orbits the sun more than three billion miles from Earth, but there is still so much more that researchers want to learn about it. Horizons has been traveling through space for about nine years so these images are enlightening and show that there is so much more to come. They reveal the detail on Pluto and that it is more complex than previously thought according to Science Daily.
The photos also reveal that the dwarf planet may have a polar cap as well. Bright and dark regions on the surface of Pluto were revealed in the images. Pluto is shown to have broad surface markings according The Daily Mail and the bright spot could be a polar cap. Intriguing features are becoming apparent as New Horizons draws closer. The Daily Mail says that researchers are filled with excitement as they get further in their quest to unravel Pluto and all of its mysteries. Researchers are particularly interested in being able to more clearly see Pluto’s other four moons.
Nine years into their journey, Nasa’s New Horizons spacecraft is finally reaching the climax of its long and exciting mission. The spacecraft has traveled longer than any other spacecraft in history to reach its destination. The overall travel distance is measured to be more than three billion miles.It is true that Pluto which was once classified as a planet in our solar system has been demoted to just a dwarf planet. This occurred back in 2006 when scientists and researchers discovered objects of greater or similar size. Regardless of the demotion, the mission is still extremely important and can reveal a ton of new data.
The Daily Mail added that the people involved have worked hard on this mission and know that this may be their only shot. After plotting the course and practicing numerous times, they realize that this is the real deal and they have to make the most of it. New Horizons is expected to take as much as 100 time the data as they draw closer to Pluto. July is not their ending point. There is so much more work to do and researchers know that they have to move quickly to gather as much new information as possible.
By Heather Granruth