- Family says racist bullying led to 9-year-old’s suicide 4 Years Ago
- How ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ found its eye-popping animation Today 9:15 AM
- Netflix gives Selena Quintanilla the series our queen deserves Today 8:51 AM
- Pence gets meme’d for zen-like looks during Trump’s White House showdown Today 8:50 AM
- Marvel is rebooting the Fantastic Four—with a major twist Today 8:11 AM
- Twitter dunks on conservatives who think Supergirl’s trans character is too ‘woke’ Today 8:09 AM
- How to find your best nine Instagram photos of 2018 before anyone else Today 6:00 AM
- How to watch Animal Planet online for free Today 6:00 AM
- White House frames fiery Oval Office meeting as ‘constructive dialogue’ Tuesday 5:45 PM
- Google CEO tells Congress why searching ‘idiot’ results in Trump images Tuesday 3:52 PM
- Netflix’s year-end data dump shows what people binged in 2018 Tuesday 3:13 PM
- Snowden joins calls for Google to end controversial Chinese search engine Tuesday 1:51 PM
- There’s still time for Congress to reinstate net neutrality Tuesday 1:24 PM
- George R.R. Martin promises fans he’ll finish ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ … someday Tuesday 12:58 PM
- The Boss tears down his myths on Netflix’s ‘Springsteen on Broadway’ Tuesday 10:56 AM
NASA’s New Horizons probe wakes up on final approach to Pluto
Who knows what scientists will find when it arrives?
When NASA‘s New Horizons probe launched in January 2006, it was heading toward a celestial body that astrophysicists still called a “planet.”
Scientists now call Pluto a “dwarf planet,” but their expectations for scientific discovery when the probe arrives at Pluto in July 2015 are by no means diminished.
As it began its approach to Pluto, New Horizons “woke up” from a power-saving sleep mode, telling NASA on Sunday evening that it was up and ready to go. The probe is now so far away that the radio signal, traveling at light speed, took four and a half hours to reach Earth.
As the probe awoke from its slumber 2.9 billion miles away, it received a serenade from tenor Russell Watson. The song in question was “Where My Heart Will Take Me,” which Watson recorded as the theme music for Star Trek: Enterprise, and which has been used on several occasions as a “wakeup” song for astronauts on shuttle missions.
New Horizons’ close approach to and study of Pluto over the next seven months will likely focus new attention on the controversial decision to demote Pluto from planet to dwarf planet in September 2006, just a few months after the probe’s launch. At the time, the leader of the New Horizons mission remarked, “This definition stinks.”
New Horizons is now in an area of the solar system called the Kuiper belt, out beyond Neptune. This trans-Neptunian space includes Pluto, at least two other dwarf planets, and numerous asteroids.
On Jan. 15, New Horizons will be close enough to survey an asteroid with the rather unpoetic name of VNH0004. By February, it will be able to send back its first observations of Pluto. Its closest flyby of the dwarf planet will take place on July 14.
Photo via NASA
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested.