Historic New Horizons Flyby of Pluto
NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, launched in 2006, made astronomy history today as it flew by Pluto, camera at the ready—and scientists around the world watching and waiting for early pictures of the dwarf planet and its moons.
After nine years in space and having traveled more than three billion miles, New Horizons is the first spacecraft from Earth to reach Pluto. Its historic flyby today gives it mere hours in range of Pluto to gather all kinds of new data for scientists. The photos New Horizons is taking will provide the closest look at Pluto to date, photos that are 1,000 times higher resolution than those taken with the Hubble Space Telescope.
Stay in orbit today with Pluto and New Horizons news:
- New Horizons: NASA's Mission to Pluto (NASA)
- A New Horizons' Pluto Flyby Timeline (New York Times)
- Pluto (Science)
- NASA's Three-Billion-Mile Journey to Pluto Reaches Historic Encounter (NASA)
- How Big Is Pluto? New Horizons Settles Decades-Long Debate (NASA)
- A Brief History of Pluto Viewing: From Its Discovery to New Horizons Flyby (Space.com)
- NASA probe makes history at Pluto (CNN)
For students who get excited about space science based on today's photos and news reports, or for students already interested in space science, student projects like these from the Science Buddies astronomy area are a great way to explore:
- Satellite Science: How Does Speed Affect Orbiting Altitude?
- Craters and Meteorites
- What Makes the Rings of Saturn?
- Catching Stardust
- Star light, Star bright: How Does Light Intensity Change with Distance?
- Dirty Snowballs: How a Comet's Size Affects How Fast It Melts
- The Milky Way and Beyond: Globular Clusters
- Finding the Center of the Milky Way Galaxy Using Globular Star Clusters
- Correlation of Coronal Mass Ejections with the Solar Sunspot Cycle
- Sunspot Cycles
- Asteroid Mining: Gold Rush in Space?
- NASA Asteroid Database: What Can You Learn About Our Solar System?
- The Measure of Mercury: Analyzing Impact Craters on the Innermost Planet
- X-Ray Vision: Seeing Into Space
Many projects and questions related to space science are related to the analysis of data from big data sets. For more information on student science projects involving big data, see Explore the World of Big Data with Your Science Project.
Careers in Space Science
Curious about space-oriented career paths and STEM careers for those who love astronomy and space? For an inside look at some of the team members working on the New Horizons mission, see The Women who Power NASA's New Horizons Mission to Pluto (NASA).