Here you can ask, answer and discuss all things space related.
To get us started, I’m going to ask a question: What does Pluto look like?
Those of you who are already googling, don’t bother. Because the answer is: WE DON’T KNOW. That’s right; even though we have telescopes that can take pretty amazing pictures of galaxies billions of light years away, we can barely see the outskirts of our solar system. Even though Pluto is right here in our own neighborhood, orbiting the same sun we are, no one on Earth knows what it looks like.
This photograph, compiled by the Hubble Space Telescope (courtesy NASA) is the best we can do.
But we humans are very curious. Scientists, like kids everywhere, want to know. That’s why on January 19, 2006 NASA launched a mission to reach Pluto and the other plutoids we know little about on the outskirts of our solar system. That ship, New Horizons, has been hurtling through space for five years. It passed Mars in 2006, Jupiter in 2007, Saturn in 2008 and should reach Uranus in March of 2011. But New Horizons is still just barely half way.
Don’t worry, though, you don’t have THAT long to wait. Only four and a half years…
Meanwhile, you can get constant updates and watch New Horizon’s progress live at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/newhorizons/main/index.html. See videos of its launch and pictures of its journey so far, including the storms and moons of Jupiter.
So maybe you’ll be in high school when New Horizons reaches its goal, or a student in college. Maybe you’ll be studying astronomy, or writing books, or creating videos games. Whatever you’re doing, wherever you are in July of 2015, you will be able to see the very first actual pictures any human being on Earth has ever seen of Pluto.
What do you think? Worth waiting for?
I mean it, I’d like to hear from you. What interests you about Pluto, New Horizons, other NASA missions, space? What do you wonder about when you look at the moon, planets, stars, and galaxies in the night sky? Do you want to know about the beginning of the universe, or black holes, or why time only flows in one direction? Your thoughts are welcome here.
And on a personal note, I’d like to wish a very happy birthday to my sister Karen.
Note: all photos in this post, including the header, are courtesy of NASA.