This Tuesday morning, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft sped past Pluto at a trajectory of 31,000 mph, coming 7,800 feet from the planet’s surface. The fly-by gave us and incredible new color photograph of Pluto, and we are amazed.
The photo reveals Pluto a little bit different from what caricatures from cartoons and movies has portrayed it to be. It’s a bright, dusky rose brown color with a heart shaped terrain. The photos and data also revealed important information about the planet’s make up.
“The photos so far have been sharp enough to give a better determination of Pluto’s diameter — 1,472 miles, give or take six miles — which restores Pluto as the undisputed giant of the Kuiper belt. (Earth, for comparison, has a diameter of 7,918 miles.)”
“With New Horizons weighing in, ‘that settles the debate about the largest object in the Kuiper belt,’ Dr. Stern [the principal investigator for NASA’s New Horizons mission] said on Monday. The larger diameter means that Pluto is less dense than had been thought, and that in turn means a greater proportion of ice and less rock in its composition.”
The world is constantly amazed by space travel and what is out there in our universe, and we are excited to see what new discoveries come our way!