SCSU Professor: New Horizons Approach Towards Pluto is a “Historic Moment”
After spending over nine years in space, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is set to fly within 7,767 miles of Pluto on Tuesday morning.
The spacecraft has traveled three billion miles to get to the former-planet. St. Cloud State University assistant physics professor Gary Bohannan says the flyby will provide valuable new information on Pluto.
"Finding out what Pluto is and how it was made and what it's made of...we think it's made of ice, but we don't really know what kind...This is really historic that we're getting out there."
The craft will gather more data and photos when it gets close to Pluto before sending information back to earth. New Horizons has seven instruments and has the goal of learning more about the surface, atmosphere and geologic structures on Pluto.
Bohannan says New Horizons is traveling over 30,000 miles per hour on its journey to Pluto.
"It's the fastest space craft that we've ever built and it's only slightly bigger than a mini van, it's doing a tremendous job."
Bohannan says New Horizons is now so far away from earth that it will take several hours for photos to be sent back.
The craft recently discovered the radius of Pluto spans 736 miles, plus or minus six miles. That's 20-30 miles bigger than previous estimates.
-This story was written with information from the Associated Press-