It’s going to have another show-time for Pluto as US space agency NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has covered a distance of three billion miles and now it is approaching the end of its journey of nine years to Pluto.
As NASA’s this mission is humanity’s first trip to Pluto, the scientists are eagerly awaiting to explore the heavenly body and understand more about the farthest known body of our solar system.
On Sunday, the spacecraft will commence clicking the rare pictures of the mysterious, unexplored, icy world that was once deemed a planet.
Pluto has always remained the only planet in our solar system that is yet to be explored. When New Horizons departed from our life supporting planet Earth, Pluto used to enjoy the planet status, the ninth member in the solar system lineup. Seven months later, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) stripped the tag of planethood from Pluto, putting it under the category of dwarf planet. However, it was later known as, plutoid.
New Horizons spacecraft is still over 100 million miles from Pluto, the astronomers behind the project said.
According to the scientists, the photographs captured by New Horizons will offer greater understanding about the plutoid. The first picture is expected to reveal little more than bright dots. The images captures against star fields are believed to help scientists measure the remaining distance and help in keeping the baby grand piano-sized rover on track for a July flyby.
“New Horizons has been a mission of delayed gratification in many respects, and it’s finally happening now. It’s going to be a sprint for the next seven months, basically, to the finish line. We can’t wait to turn Pluto into a real world, instead of just a little pixelated blob,” said Hal Weaver, project scientist from Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University.
The spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral in January 2006 at a cost of USD 700 million. It awoke from its last hibernation in December last year. According to the flight controllers, they have spent greater energy in the past several weeks in preparing the spacecraft for the final but most important leg of its nine-year-old journey.