By: Nick Gambino
NASA’s probe or spacecraft awakened out of hibernation as it reached its destination near Pluto back in December 2014. Now it’s readied itself for a year-long upload of all the vital information it’s collected.
A year seems like a long time for an upload but if you consider the journey to Pluto took 9 years as the spacecraft traversed three billion miles. Billion. I’ll say that once again. Billion. I complain whenever I have to travel anywhere above 30 miles. This is the longest any space mission has traveled in the history of space exploration. By our planet anyways. (Cue the debate on whether there’s life on other planets.)
The space probe, aptly named New Horizons, began it’s study of Pluto in January 2015. It studied the Pluto system, taking photos which are clearer images than could ever be imagined in the Hubble Telescope’s wildest dreams.
Experts and novices alike have anxiously awaited these images because for years Pluto has been a bit of an outcast in our solar system. It was considered this weird kid in the back of the class that nobody was ever able to identify with. One minute it’s a planet. The next minute it’s not. Now it’s a planet again. Stop messing with my head NASA!
Luckily, the year-long upload of all of its information doesn’t mean we’ll have to wait to get a glimpse of the smallest planet from the sun. In fact, new images have just been processed that give a close-up look of Pluto and apparently it’s baffling the experts.
Whatever they expected it wasn’t this. They expected some sort of long “dead” planet with few recent changes. But instead the images show large plains, dunes, mountains, valleys and deltas indicating there could be flowing water or some sort of liquid. The dunes could indicate strong wind currents. Seems Pluto was almost showing off to prove us wrong.
We hope to see even more exciting images and data as the upload continues and the information is processed. In the meantime New Horizons has already moved on past Pluto to its next target. In fact, it’s already 43 million miles beyond Pluto heading towards an object in the Kuiper Belt which has garnered some interest from the spacemen at NASA.
Here’s hoping it’s something mind-blowing like a planet with life on it, silencing all the naysayers. And here’s hoping it’s not something terrifying like the Death Star, 3/4 completed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick Gambino is a regular script writer and tech beat reporter for NewsWatch. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and daughter.