We did it! At 7:49 a.m. EDT today New Horizons made history when it zoomed within 7,800 miles of Pluto, the most remote object ever visited in the Solar System. I thought you’d like to see our best view yet of Pluto in this last and sharpest image taken before closest approach. The level of detail is fantastic.
Universe Today’s Ken Kremer is on the scene at mission control, and we’ll have much more news and analysis for you later today. For now, here’s a taste.
Pluto encounter July 14th 11:00-12:00 UTC (6:00am CDT) by Tom Ruen
Pluto has a very complex surface. The fact that large areas show few craters – as compared to say, Ceres or Vesta – shows that there have relatively recent changes there. Maybe very recent. Alan Stern, principal investigator for the mission, was asked by a report at this morning’s press conference if it snows on Pluto. His answer: “It sure looks like it.”
Stern is also confident the spacecraft survived closest approach without getting bulleted by dust. We should know tonight when it “phones home” around 9 p.m. EDT.
With the Pluto flyby the latest achievement in over 50 years of humankind’s exploration of the Solar System’s wild assortment of moons, planets and comets, see the bounty of our efforts in this wonderful compendium titled From Pluto to the Sun by Jon Keegan, Chris Canipe and Alberto Cervantes.