Gorgeous Pluto! The dwarf planet has sent a love note back to Earth via our New Horizons spacecraft, which has traveled more than 9 years and 3+ billion miles. This is the last and most detailed image of Pluto sent to Earth before the moment of closest approach, which was at 7:49 a.m. EDT Tuesday - about 7,750 miles above the surface -- roughly the same distance from New York to Mumbai, India - making it the first-ever space mission to explore a world so far from Earth. This stunning image of the dwarf planet was captured from New Horizons at about 4 p.m. EDT on July 13, about 16 hours before the moment of closest approach. The spacecraft was 476,000 miles (766,000 kilometers) from the surface. Images from closest approach are expected to be released on Wednesday, July 15. Image Credit: NASA #nasa #pluto #plutoflyby #newhorizons#solarsystem #nasabeyond #science
Thanks to a robot explorer, we earthlings have finally seen Pluto up close.
After an epic journey that spanned more than nine years and 3 billion miles, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft finally made its first flyby of the dwarf planet. Travelling at 30,000 mph, the space probe made history by getting the closest a spacecraft has ever been to our solar system’s furthermost planet, around 7,800 miles away.
“The exploration of Pluto and its moons by New Horizons represents the capstone event to 50 years of planetary exploration by NASA and the United States,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden stated. “Once again we have achieved a historic first. The United States is the first nation to reach Pluto, and with this mission has completed the initial survey of our solar system, a remarkable accomplishment that no other nation can match.”
Needless to say, this successful mission marked an important day in the history of space exploration, since no spacecraft has ever traveled to and explored a world so far away from Earth.
After being widely shared on social media, the close-up image ultimately got the treatment all popular images do: It became a meme.
Fascinated by its geographical structure and clear bright spot on its surface, the Internet decided to celebrate mankind’s closest approach to Pluto with some truly hilarious memes. Take a look: