It took 10 years and three billion — that’s billion with a B — miles to get there but man (and woman) have gone where no one has gone before: Pluto.
Well, a space probe has, at least.
NASA scientsts hugged, fist-pumped and fist-bumped Tuesday morning as the nuclear-powered New Horizons probe passed dead center of a 60-by-90-mile target zone between the orbits of Pluto and its primary moon, Charon, at 7:49 a.m.
“We have completed the initial reconnaissance of the Solar System, an endeavour started under President Kennedy more than 50 years ago and continuing to today under President Obama,” said New Horizons chief scientist Alan Stern.
“It’s really historic what the U.S. has done, and the New Horizons team is really proud to have been able to run that anchor leg and make this accomplishment.”
Pluto, which has been demoted from planet status, is bigger than expected, the probe has found.
It has a diameter of about 1,473 miles, 50 miles wider than previous predictions.
Pluto is now officially bigger than Eris, one of hundreds of thousands of mini-planets and comet-like objects circling beyond Neptune in a region called the Kuiper Belt.
The discovery of this region in 1992 prompted the official reclassification of Pluto from planet to “dwarf planet.”
LikeMetro New York,Metro BostonorMetro Phillyon Facebook and join the conversation.