NASA has released photos of Pluto and its moon, the aptly named Charon.

The craft New Horizons made its closest approach to Pluto today, 14 July 2015.

Here is a false color composite:

pluto charon


New Horizons’ almost 10-year, three-billion-mile journey to closest approach at Pluto took about one minute less than predicted when the craft was launched in January 2006. The spacecraft threaded the needle through a 36-by-57 mile (60 by 90 kilometers) window in space — the equivalent of a commercial airliner arriving no more off target than the width of a tennis ball.

Because New Horizons is the fastest spacecraft ever launched – hurtling through the Pluto system at more than 30,000 mph, a collision with a particle as small as a grain of rice could incapacitate the spacecraft. Once it reestablishes contact Tuesday night, it will take 16 months for New Horizons to send its cache of data – 10 years’ worth — back to Earth.

More HERE.

Pluto 02

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. frjim4321 says:

    That is so huge. Thank you so much for the posting.

  2. APX says:

    So is Pluto a planet again?

  3. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Sure looks like a planet to me!

  4. frjim4321 says:

    It is a plutoid or a dwarf planet.

  5. danielinnola says:

    Cool! Its a planet! I wanna move there soon. Im sick of Earth, people here have gone nuts… One small worry though, if the rapture takes place on Earth, will i be…left behind?? ;)

  6. JesusFreak84 says:

    When I was a little girl, I wanted to be an astronaut more than anything, (didn’t get motion-sick back then =-p ) and this just stirred that part of my brain XD

  7. Father Bartoloma says:

    Wait – Didn’t Vatican II abolish Pluto as a planet?

  8. Nicholas says:

    I think we should rename the dwarf planets Goofy and Pluto. The worlds would be a much happier place.

  9. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Someone more knowledgeable than myself about such things just directed my attention to the Wikipedia article, “Clearing the neighbourhood”, with reference to one of the three criteria in the 2006 IAU (re)definition of a Solar system ‘planet’: “Clearing the neighbourhood around its orbit”. It draws upon a BBC News article (linked there) according to which, Dr. Alan Stern (described as “currently leading the NASA New Horizons mission to Pluto”) said, “It’s an awful definition; it’s sloppy science and it would never pass peer review” in part “because it’s inconsistent” and pointed out that “Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Neptune have also not fully cleared their orbital zones”, adding “If Neptune had cleared its zone, Pluto wouldn’t be there”.

  10. Polycarpio says:

    What I didn’t like about the demotion of Pluto from planet to dwarf planet is that there was no change in the information we had about Pluto; instead, they changed the definition of “planet” to leave Pluto out. I’m a lawyer, so in the law we would consider that an ex post facto law! Not to make light of what is a serious debate, but it also reminds me of the redefinition of marriage we have seen. We always knew what marriage was, and now a fashionable whim purports to require us to rethink everything we know?? By the way, when the New Horizons set out for Pluto, Pluto was a planet and by the time it got there it was not. I suppose science is different. Someone posted a valid thought elsewhere, about science being about discovery and change–the courage to let the chips fall where they may. They pointed out that there’s a history of demoting planets, that I was not aware of. But the sentimental part of me saw the heart-like formation on Pluto and it made me think of the time when Pluto was Pluto and marriage was marriage. :)

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