Why We Can't Stop Staring at the Pluto Photo
One of the final images taken of Pluto before New Horizons made its closest approach on 14 July 2015.
NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
NASA's New Horizon probe has already flown by Pluto but we won't see the real Cecil B. DeMille-style closeups until those photos finish transmitting tonight. But based on the photo that NASA just put out showing Pluto as the probe began to draw closer to the dwarf planet, the last unexplored planet in our solar system, we're already giddy with anticipation.
Why? Well, because the latest photo of Pluto, the icy brown planet that had never been captured in anything better than as a small fuzzy dot in a photograph snapped from millions of miles away, shows the first clear images of the planet. And it's beautiful.
Some might say it's ridiculous to spend more than $700 million to send a probe more than 3 billion miles to reach Pluto, but this first image is part of why it's totally worth it to spend a little money — and as far as government is concerned, this isn't that much — to peer into another world. (The spacecraft also had to move at speeds between 37,000 mph and 51,000 mph to be in exactly the right place at the right time to complete NASA's mission, which is an incredible feat in and of itself .) Just look at how cool this is. We can't wait to see the next photos.