More stunning images from the New Horizon spacecraft as it zips by Pluto–The icy, young mountains near Pluto’s equator; A sharper image of Pluto’s largest moon, Charon Photos: NASA.gov
Pluto three billion miles away on July 14, 2015, the closest encounter to date. The image is from the New Horizons spacecraft as it travels past the planet today. NASA team members and guests counted down to the historic flyby at John Hopkins Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Maryland. Photos: NASA.gov, Bill Ingalls.
The New Horizons spacecraft snaps this image of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon. Photo: NASA.gov
On NASA television, Mark Holdridge of the Mission Operations Center said tonight the team will be listening for sounds from New Horizons to see if the spacecraft is operating properly and for new data coming in. New Horizons is traveling 30,798 mph in space as it heads toward Pluto. Kansas farmer Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto on February 18, 1930 while working at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. The third telescope he built was mounted on a lawn mower and it could take images of specs of light. It was while comparing images and drawings of Mars and Jupiter that Tombaugh knew there was another planet, which was Pluto, his family said.
“When he looked at Pluto, it was just a spec of light,” said Annette Tombaugh, his daughter on NASA television.
“To actually see the planet that he had discovered and find out about its atmosphere, find out more of what it is and actually get to see the moons of Pluto, he would have been astounded,” she said.
Tombaugh, 90, died in 1997. The New Horizons spacecraft is carrying his ashes.
Sources: CNN, NASA.gov