Tags: new horizons | pluto | images

Pluto: NASA's New Horizons Takes Its First Images of Planet, Moon

By    |   Thursday, 05 Feb 2015 08:37 PM

The first pictures of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, came in from the New Horizons spacecraft on Wednesday, and although grainy, they hold considerable significance.

“My dad would be thrilled with New Horizons,” said Clyde Tombaugh’s daughter Annette Tombaugh, of Las Cruces, New Mexico, in a NASA release. “To actually see the planet that he had discovered, and find out more about it — to get to see the moons of Pluto — he would have been astounded. I'm sure it would have meant so much to him if he were still alive today.”

The images came in on the 109th birthday of Tombaugh, who discovered the distant plant in 1930.

The images are grainy because they’re taken 126 million miles away from Pluto. New Horizons is approaching the Pluto system, and will make a close flyby of the planet and its moons on July 14.

“This is our birthday tribute to Professor Tombaugh and the Tombaugh family, in honor of his discovery and life achievements — which truly became a harbinger of 21st century planetary astronomy,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado. “These images of Pluto, clearly brighter and closer than those New Horizons took last July from twice as far away, represent our first steps at turning the pinpoint of light Clyde saw in the telescopes at Lowell Observatory 85 years ago, into a planet before the eyes of the world this summer.”

New Horizons has traveled 3 billion miles over a 9-year period to get these first photos.

Planetary scientist Emily Lakdawalla wrote on Sen: “It's the moment we've been waiting for since January 19, 2006. When New Horizons lifted off from Cape Canaveral, bound for Pluto, it was the beginning of a long wait for a scientific payoff — the longest-ever for a space mission. Nine years later, New Horizons has finally, formally begun the scientific mission, delivering its first image data from the mission's Pluto approach phase.”

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The first pictures of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, came in from the New Horizons spacecraft on Wednesday, and although grainy, they hold considerable significance.
new horizons, pluto, images
331
2015-37-05
Thursday, 05 Feb 2015 08:37 PM
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