NASA Spacecraft Traveled 9 Years, 3-Billion Miles And Took This Picture Of Pluto

July 14, 2015

pluto-flyby.jpg

This is a shot of Pluto taken by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft from about 8,000-miles above its surface. New Horizons was launched in January of 2006 and has spent the last decade traveling some 3-billion miles to gather data on everyone's favorite dwarf planet, Pluto. Seriously read this and try to fathom how it was even possible:

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.

Wait -- so NASA can predict a 10-year, three-billion-mile journey to within a minute but when a friend tells me they'll be over in thirty minutes it takes them almost two hours? I want NASA friends. Also, if you'll notice, the lower right of the planet kinda looks like a heart. It's almost as if Pluto is saying, "Even after all you've put me through, I....still love you." If I were Pluto I would have opted for the middle finger, but Pluto is CLASSY. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune? They're all GASSY (especially Uranus). Solar system joke! No? Nothing? That would have killed around the water cooler at NASA. I never stopped loving you Pluto, gimme kissy.

Thanks to everyone who sent this, who love Pluto a lot but not as much as I do because I am the Pluto lover supreme.

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