Thursday, July 16, 2015
Pluto is the top dog... again!
In 1930, right after its discovery, an 11-year-old British girl told her grandfather that the name Pluto, the Roman god of the underworld, would fit the newly found planet because it stayed hidden for so long and could disappear at will. Lowell Observatory thought that would work just fine... and so did Walt Disney.
After the revelation and subsequent demotion of this curiously interesting body in the far reaches of our solar system, Pluto barks back. Scientists have already realized "that the Pluto system IS something wonderful."
It has taken New Horizons, our recent probe, 9 1/2 years at 30,000 miles per hour to cover the 3 billion miles between us. It takes 9 hours for the data our probe sends back to reach earth.
Pluto is just 2/3rds the size of our moon but in its 7,700 mile close-up 150-mile camera sweep, we saw a mountain range 11,000 feet high and "tens of miles wide." All this time we thought it was just an icy rock that would chill a giant glass of ice tea. We now know it is a highly featured and 4.5 billion years old, because we made a quick count of the candles on its birthday cake.
It has a moon, Charon, half its size which features cliffs and a deep trough three to six miles deep causing the Grand Canyon to say "Whoa!"
Getting there cost $720 million--which is $307 million LESS than the $1.027 billion cost of the new Minnesota Vikings NFL football stadium--and it has already returned information adding to knowledge of our solar system that scientist say is invaluable to understanding more about our universe.
The United States has now filmed all the planets and many moons, rings, comets and asteroids revealing amazing detail and information. When the Wright brothers first flew in 1903, who could have imagined these almost unbelievable feats. Have a look at 50 incredible photos of these solar objects.
Arf Arf! Nice job Pluto. As for the probe New Horizons, it is already millions of miles beyond on its way to space immortality.