Photos: Taking a look at New Horizons’ journey to Pluto
Image 1 of 13
Context is everything
Pluto is 4.67 billion miles from Earth, but thanks to NASA’s New Horizons mission, we’ve got a pretty crisp view of the dwarf planet.
If Pluto and its satellite Charon were to be placed near Earth, here’s how they’d compare in size.
Here’s a rendering of New Horizons spacecraft making its flyby of Pluto. The real thing happened on July 14, 2015.
There are many instruments aboard New Horizons. REX is short for Radio Science Experiment. This instrument will measure atmospheric temperature and composition.
Also on board is the SWAP Instrument, which stands for Solar Winds Around Pluto. It will use those solar winds to measure the interactions between Pluto and Charon.
Ralph is basically the camera, or “the mission’s main sense of sight,” according to the NASA website.
Alice is the ultraviolet imaging spectrometer. Its primary function is to “detect a variety of important atomic and molecular species in Pluto’s atmosphere, and to determine their relative abundances so that a complete picture of Pluto’s atmospheric composition,” according to NASA.
This is the Student Dust Counter Instrument. It will collect information about the dust that actually hits the spacecraft. It was built by students at the University of Colorado.
The Long Range Reconnaissance Imager is basically a high resolution imaging instrument.
A nine-year journey
Way back in January 2006, the New Horizons spacecraft launched (aboard an Atlas V Rocket) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
3D print your own New Horizons spacecraft
NASA recently made available a downloadable file you can use to 3D print a model of the New Horizons spacecraft, so, not entirely sure why you’re still reading this.
Millions of miles away
This image, which was taken on July 12, comes from about 1.6 million miles away from Pluto.
Getting up close with Pluto
When the New Horizons Twitter account tweeted this image from the Pluto flyby, it got more than 37,000 retweets and 22,000 favorites within the first two hours.
There was much rejoicing
This was the scene among members of the New Horizons science team when the latest image of Pluto came in. The entirety of New Horizons’ mission will span 14 years.