NASA's New Horizons Brings Pluto Into Focus - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Government
News
7/17/2015
07:05 AM
Nathan Eddy
Nathan Eddy
Slideshows
100%
0%

NASA's New Horizons Brings Pluto Into Focus

The outermost planet in our solar system comes into breathtaking relief as NASA successfully completes a nine-year, 3-billion-mile expedition to Pluto.
Previous
1 of 11
Next

It's a historic week for astronomers -- and one could argue for all of humanity -- now that NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has successfully completed its flyby of the dwarf planet Pluto and beamed back mesmerizing images from the edge of our solar system.

After a nine-year journey, the grand-piano-sized probe swung by the planet this week at a distance of 7,800 miles, traveling at 31,000 miles an hour -- fast enough to cover 150 football fields per second.

In addition to photographing the ninth planet from the Sun, New Horizons will also snap shots of Pluto's five moons, including the abnormally large Charon.

(Interesting side note: Charon is known in Greek mythology as the ferryman of the dead, but the moniker was assigned by shortening the discoverer's wife name, Charlene.)

Little was known, and much remains to be discovered, about this lonely heavenly body of rock and ice, which swings around the sun in a strangely pronounced elliptical orbit.

New Horizons will take detailed measurements and images of Pluto and its moons. The spacecraft has already revealed that the planet is 50 miles wider than previously thought (or rather, dwarf planet, depending on who you ask, since Pluto was officially demoted half a decade ago).

[Read about NASA's MESSENGER mission on Mercury.]

NASA's no stranger to showing us sights that eclipse even the most fervid imaginations, from nebulae to galaxies and quasars, all viewed from a distance that makes Pluto seem like a next-door neighbor.

However, this mission brings the exploration of our solar neighborhood to a fitting, not to say patriotic, milestone -- the US is now the only nation to have visited every planet within it, in some cases multiple times.

But the larger spoils of this achievement go to those of us who have spied Saturn's rings through a telescope, to the introverted astronauts and science fiction aficionados pining for a trip to the stars, and to the stalwart supporters of Pluto's status as our ninth, and furthest, planet.

(All images: NASA)

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Previous
1 of 11
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

News
How SolarWinds Changed Cybersecurity Leadership's Priorities
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  5/26/2021
Commentary
How CIOs Can Advance Company Sustainability Goals
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  5/26/2021
Slideshows
IT Skills: Top 10 Programming Languages for 2021
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  5/21/2021
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
2021 State of ITOps and SecOps Report
2021 State of ITOps and SecOps Report
This new report from InformationWeek explores what we've learned over the past year, critical trends around ITOps and SecOps, and where leaders are focusing their time and efforts to support a growing digital economy. Download it today!
Video
Current Issue
Planning Your Digital Transformation Roadmap
Download this report to learn about the latest technologies and best practices or ensuring a successful transition from outdated business transformation tactics.
Slideshows
Flash Poll