Saturday, July 18, 2015

Pluto More Than A Dwarf Plant In Kuiper Belt

The past few days have been a whirlwind in the evolving knowledge of our solar system. Pluto slowly but surely came to life before our eyes, expanding from a few pixels of light into a complex world with cliffs, mountains, valleys, and maybe geysers.

The data from the New Horizons spacecraft, transmitting at 1 kilobyte per second, is coming returning very slowly. The data, filled with spectrographic, photographic, isometric, and numerous other forms of data from Pluto and its moons, takes 472 days to transmit back to Earth.

Transmission which should last another 16 months will be full of surprises for humankind.

Headline: Pluto Is Just a Baby Step for Humankind

As it advances now beyond Pluto, the New Horizons spacecraft is sending back data from its historic encounter with the dwarf planet like a long sigh of relief. It will be 16 months before scientists get the last binary bit. Trailing in its wake are broader questions about human nature and the next frontier of space exploration.

“It is, in a sense, the last first,” said the astrobiologist David Grinspoon of the Planetary Science Institute in Washington, D.C. Never again will we approach a major world in our solar system for the first time.



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