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.

  • Smokey

    Since there's no up or down in space you can flip that image and the heart is a butt mooning us.

  • Xockszky

    Isn't it awesome?
    Now, they just need to reinstate Pluto as a planet!

  • Ed

    Maybe it can happen. They found out it's bigger than they thought; but don't hold your breath for the self anointed few who get to name everything in our universe to change their minds. The thought of looking wrong on the topic makes them more likely to double down on why it's not a planet to say "See, we told ya so, we're always right," rather than ever compromise, just like the little cubicle Napoleons that they are.

  • TyDurd

    The photo posted was taken on July 13th from about 476,000 miles from the surface. At 7:29 AM EDT July 14th, New Horizon was as close to the surface as it will get (~8,000 miles), but we won't see those images until around 9 PM tonight. (source : NASA)

    Transmitting data 3 billion miles takes a little while...

  • Jenness

    Pluto will always be a planet to me.

  • Gene Kaufman

    Am I the only one who gets emotional about Pluto?
    It was my favorite! The little guy at the end...

  • doopie

    Uranus is gassy.

  • Geekologie

    thank you I changed it to reflect this

  • Meh

    GW, you sound like you haven't play Kerbal.

  • Andyman7714

    That's no moon...er planet.....um, I mean dwarf planet...OH FORGET IT! THE JOKE IS LOST!

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