Today is a busy day in the world of astronomy and space news. The US Air Force has approved SpaceX for military launches, ending a ten year monopoly by Boeing and Lockheed-Martin. A black hole jet moving at nearly the speed of light is having traffic issues, resulting in knots of jet material rear-ending each other. An experiment in Quantum Mechanics has shown that reality simply doesn’t exist until we measure it. Finally, the Gemini planet imager has found a bright, disk-shaped ring of dust around the star HD 115600, which is being likened to the Kuiper Belt in the outer solar system.
Yes all of these fascinating leaps in scientific understanding do not stimulate my imagination like the New Horizons mission to Pluto. The prospect of a close up view of a world 5 Billion kilometres distant that has never before been seen by Earthlings is too exciting for our species. After four months of the closest approach and subsequent passing of Pluto, you will likely get tired of reading my inspired writings about the mission, but I just can’t help myself. The latest Pluto images show a month long gap between exposures.
The images were taken by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on the spacecraft. Each day, New Horizons travels a million kilometres closer to Pluto. It’s only a matter of time until we see what this enigmatic world has in store. The craft will pass within 13,000 Km of the surface of Pluto in just 47 days.
I can’t wait! Nine long years in the making, I feel like I’ve been part of this mission for a big chunk of my life. It will be great to see it succeed.