NASA scientists have announced that through the data received by New Horizon, they have estimated the size of Pluto and it turns out that Pluto is bigger than initially thought.
New Horizon, which is all set for its flyby on July 14th, has zeroed in on the diameter of the dwarf planet to be 1,473 miles, which is about 50 miles bigger than scientists previously thought.
Pluto might be icier and rockier than thought because it has found out to have a lower destiny, as stated by scientist Alan Stern.
On Tuesday, New Horizons will again cruise within 7,800 miles (12,500 km) of Pluto’s near side — which sports a huge, bright heart-shaped feature — at a speed of 30,800 mph (49,600 km/h). Closest approach will occur at 7:49 a.m. EDT (1149 GMT). This will be the final of the 9 and half-year, 3 billion-mile journey.
However last Saturday the scientists were very upset when the spacecraft suffered a computer malfunction. NASA said in a statement that it is very pleased with its mission team on how quickly they identified the problem and were able to fix it and now scientists have successfully programmed the spacecraft to reboot itself in the case of a malfunction occurring and it will be able to resume tasks without the Mission Control at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland, having to intervene.
Now scientists say that there is one in a thousand chance that something could go wrong like a debris strike.
However Stern stated that flying into the unknown space comes with a lot of risks.
Stern opened a news conference at mission headquarters in Maryland US stating
“Tomorrow morning a United States spacecraft will fly by the Pluto system and make history.”
Pluto was discovered in 1930 and is the last planet in the solar system to be explored. It was only last year that Pluto fell down from the ranks of being a planet and became classified as a dwarf planet.
In the last few days NASA has received the best ever images of Pluto and its primary moon Charon.
Project manager Glen Fountain describes Horizons like a freight train barreling down the track, “and you’re seeing this light coming at you and you know it’s not going to stop, you can’t slow it down.”
NASA revealed three new discoveries on Monday which carters as a sneak preview as New Horizon approaches its 21-hour mark.
After discovering the new size of Pluto, even though slightly bigger than expected it is still barely one-fifth the size of Earth, scientists have also confirmed their theory of Pluto’s north pole being icy and filled with methane and nitrogen ice.
When New Horizon was nearly a week away from Pluto it detected nitrogen lost from Pluto’s atmosphere, meaning that it travels farther from the icy dwarf planet than suspected.
NASA scientist are expecting that the resolution of images sent back from New Horizon will get better.