Stowaways Revealed on New Horizons Spacecraft

by Nancy Atkinson on October 27, 2008

This object is a stowaway on board New Horizons.  Credit:  JHU/APL

This object is a stowaway on board New Horizons. Credit: JHU/APL

The New Horizons spacecraft has now spent over 1,000 days wending its way to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. To celebrate the milestone, the New Horizons team decided to reveal the secret stowaways on board the spacecraft. Nine objects (can you guess why there are nine?!) were attached and sent along on the ten-year journey to the outer reaches of our solar system. Believe it or not, included in the items are one actual person, and parts of several thousands of other people…

Here’s the complete list:

1. One actual person. Well, part of an actual person. A portion of Pluto discoverer Clyde Tombaugh’s ashes were put in a container and attached to the underside of the spacecraft – see image above. Here’s the inscription on the container: “Interned herein are remains of American Clyde W. Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto and the solar system’s ‘third zone’ Adelle and Muron’s boy, Patricia’s husband, Annette and Alden’s father, astronomer, teacher, punster, and friend: Clyde W. Tombaugh (1906-1997).”

2. Me and about 434,000 other people, too! The “Send Your Name to Pluto” CD-ROM with more than over four hundred thousand names of people who wanted to participate in this great journey of exploration. I’m pumped about being along for the ride, and I hope you are on board, too!

3. A CD-ROM with pictures of New Horizons project personnel.

4. A Florida state quarter, from the state where New Horizons was launched.

5. A Maryland state quarter, from the state where New Horizons was built.

6. A small piece cut from SpaceShip One is installed on New Horizons’ lower inside deck, with a two-sided inscription. Front: “To commemorate its historic role in the advancement of spaceflight, this piece of SpaceShip One is being flown on another historic spacecraft: New Horizons. New Horizons is Earth’s first mission to Pluto, the farthest known planet in our solar system.” Back: “SpaceShip One was Earth’s first privately funded manned spacecraft. SpaceShip One flew from the United States of America in 2004.”

Piece from SpaceShip One.  Credit: JHU/APL

Piece from SpaceShip One. Credit: JHU/APL

7. A U.S. Flag.

8. Another version of a U.S. Flag.

9. The 1991 U.S. stamp proclaiming, “Pluto: Not Yet Explored”

Pluto US postal stamp from 1991.  Credit:  JHU/APL

Pluto US postal stamp from 1991. Credit: JHU/APL

New Horizons’ principal investigator Dr. Alan Stern disclosed the list of items at a ceremony at Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center, where a model of the New Horizons spacecraft was added to the museum. Stern said he plans to petition the U.S. Postal Service to issue a new stamp for Pluto after the spacecraft arrives at Pluto, maybe something like this:

Proposed new stamp for New Horizons.  Credit:  JHU/APL

Proposed new stamp for New Horizons. Credit: JHU/APL

Source: New Horizons website

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: