Close Enough To Kiss Pluto

The New Horizons probe made its closest approach to Pluto on Tuesday morning, carrying the ashes of the man who discovered the dwarf planet, along with spectrometers to analyze Pluto’s surface, and one telescopic camera taking so many pictures it will be more than a year before NASA receives them all.

“Perihadean Achieved” was Steven H Silver’s headline at SF Site News. Silver, a true Pluto aficionado, uses as his Facebook profile picture a 1980 snapshot of him standing with Pluto discoverer Clyde Tombaugh, whom he corresponded with for two years before meeting.

A New Horizons tribute video has been assembled by NPR from images returned by the probe. The words that accompany the video come from Ray Bradbury, who read his poem “If Only We Had Taller Been” at a celebration of a NASA mission to Mars in 1971.

“With all the data collection on the menu (and the incredibly slow download rate), NASA estimates that New Horizons will be sending home the data it collects on Tuesday for the next 16 months,” says the Washington Post.

On NASA’s Facebook page someone asked the New Horizons team if they expect to find more moons around Pluto. The answer is

I think most people on the NH team were expecting we’d find a small moon or two. We haven’t seen any yet, but there is a lot of data that still needs to come down

And the mission isn’t done yet:

5 thoughts on “Close Enough To Kiss Pluto

  1. Planet…schmanet…it’s wonderful, and I’m sure Clyde Tombaugh would have been amazed and very pleased, if he had lived. In the midst of all the tragedy and bad things happening in the world today, it’s good to see something positive like New Horizons going well.

  2. I’ve really been quietly glowing inside about the Pluto encounter. Dad designed ranging systems for the Deep Space Network, and his legacy is one more lil’ piece of what made this work. (It delighted me when the Planetary Society commissioned a video for New Horizons and included credit for all the men and women who designed, built, and flew the missions before it.)

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