In 6 hours the New Horizons Spacecraft will zip by Pluto delivering close up images from the planet.
Today is the big day for NASA's New Horizons spacecraft. In about 6 hours New Horizons will flyby Pluto delivering close-up photos of Pluto never seen before. This NASA spacecraft has been traveling since 9 years to meet Pluto.
To mark the historic Pluto Flyby Google dedicates today Google Doodle to New Horizons. In the doodle New Horizons swirls around Pluto which shows the remarkable heart shape on it surface NASA discovered earlier this week.
It is getting exciting for NASA's Pluto flyby mission team. After a more than nine-year, three-billion-mile journey to Pluto, the New Horizons spacecraft will at the closest distance on July 14 at 7:49:57 am EDT. New Horizons will be approximately 7,800 miles (12,500 kilometers) above the surface at this time.
On July 14 the Pluto Countdown Program will air from 7:30am to 8am. The images of the Pluto Flyby will be released on Wednesday July 15 at 3 to 4pm. This means that today will be historic, but we will not see anything as it takes several hours for data to reach earth. On top of that the data rate of the New Horizons transmission is very slow with only about 1kb/s. Downloading all data New Horizons collected during the flyby will take 10 weeks and will be done later.
To get educated on Pluto watch NASA's Pluto in a minute video series below.
New Horizons is an interplanetary space probe that was launched as part of NASA's New Frontiers program. Built by the Applied Physics Laboratory and the Southwest Research Institute, with a team led by S. Alan Stern, the spacecraft was launched to study Pluto, its moons and the Kuiper Belt, performing flybys of the Pluto system and one or more Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs). The goal of the mission is to understand the formation of the Pluto system, the Kuiper Belt, and the transformation of the early Solar System.
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The spacecraft will study the atmospheres, surfaces, interiors and environments of Pluto and its moons. It will also study other objects in the Kuiper Belt. Find more on the historic space mission background on Wikipedia and on the New Horizons Mission page on NASA.