A new limelight in space science made history again. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is not only the first spacecraft to reach Pluto, it has also accomplished to capture photos of the planet on what would have been Clyde Tombaugh’s 109th birth anniversary, the discoverer of the dwarf planet in 1930.
July 2015, is the expected month wherein the New Horizons will actually be closest to the dwarf planet that any man-made spacecraft has ever achieved. It will traverse it and travel on to the only other object in the area of interest than Pluto itself.
Randy Gladstone, co-investigator of the New Horizons mission stated, “ We are a long way out there with a tiny spacecraft. It may take about a year to get all that data back so eventually it will all come back and we’ll have plenty to play with for the next 10 years.”
Gladstone added further, “There is this whole new area out there called the outer solar system where the Kuiper Belt is, Pluto is a member of the Kuiper Belt, but there’s thousands of them out there, and there’s many, many objects the size of Pluto out there that are very interesting looking and they’re a key component of the solar system. The way they were distributed helped form the entire solar system.”
The New Horizons probe will supposedly deliver adequate data to NASA scientists so that they may be able to answer many questions with regards to both our planet and also of the entire solar system. Although, despite the information acquired by New Horizons regarding the dwarf planet, some people will insist on debating whether or not Pluto is now a dwarf planet or a planet or some object that is yet to be determined and labeled.
“I don’t see that debate go away any time soon, as there’s so many opinions on it. It’s an interesting discussion, but it is never going to end, I don’t think,” Gladstone said.