A NASA probe is revealing new details about Pluto that are exciting people worldwide, particularly astronomers like Angela Speck at the University of Missouri. The New Horizons mission has taken nearly ten years to reach Pluto and will take at least a year for all of the data collected to be transmitted back to Earth.
“Now we’ve got a really good measure of how big it is and it turns out it’s a little bit bigger than we thought,” says Speck. “That has big impact on how we understand how it’s going to behave, what it’s made of and understand all of the objects out there.”
Dr. Speck says the technology used on this mission was state of the art.
“You think about some of the satellites that are going overhead and doing imaging like Google,” says Speck. “We’re actually getting almost as much details on this planet and that’s really impressive.”
Speck says even though the planet is bigger than astronomers thought, Pluto is still only about 1,473 miles across, or roughly a fifth the diameter of Earth. She says the planet is 40 times farther away from the sun than Earth is and the atmosphere is extremely cold, approximately 400 degrees below zero.
The New Horizons mission to Pluto cost an estimated $700 million.
For other images and details of this mission, visit https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/newhorizons/main/index.html