JUL 14, 2015 8:15 AM PDT

Historic Pluto Fly-By Via New Horizons Grabs Photos of Pluto's Surface

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Very little was known about the dwarf planet of Pluto; in fact, very little is still known about it, but more is known now than ever before thanks to the historic fly-by by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft.

The spacecraft has been floating around in space for nine and a half years after its initial launch in 2006. It has been hurdling towards the outer realms of space at over 30,000 miles per hour and even at those speeds, it's just now getting to Pluto.

That should give you some idea of just how far Pluto is from Earth... it's pretty far. NASA notes that the distance traveled was more than 3 billion miles.

On Tuesday, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft zipped past Pluto, revealing that Pluto is actually a bit larger than once thought, and showing the surface of the planet in high detail for the first time in space exploration history.

To celebrate, NASA released the following color image of Pluto on Tuesday that was captured just before the fly-by:

Pluto just before the historic fly-by on Tuesday.

New Horizons was the closest to Pluto on Tuesday, starting at 7:49 A.M. Eastern Time on July 14th 2015 than it has ever been in history, and it was so for a solid 15 minutes before it started to drift away even further into space.

On Wednesday July 15th, New Horizons will communicate with scientists here on Earth again to reveal details about the fly-by, including information about the conditions of the spacecraft during the fly-by, as well as any additional photographs that were taken. We won't get this information on Tuesday because New Horizons is busy using all of its power to capture data right now.

Tomorrow's photographs will be higher quality, and more high quality photos will be released throughout the week as NASA receives them, but this September, even higher resolution color photographs will be released of Pluto.



As the spacecraft continues through space, there is a chance it could be met with space debris. NASA appears confident that they will receive their signals before that time comes.

It's a big day for the Space and Astronomy community.

Source: NASA

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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