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Pluto!

Physicist: In 2006 a probe called New Horizons was launched to get a better look at Pluto and its moons Charon, Nix, and Hydra. Since then, Pluto stopped being a planet and gained a couple more moons: Kerberos and Styx.

This is exciting stuff. The reason we have big fancy pictures of the eight planets in our solar system is because we’ve sent cameras to them. Hubble (and future space telescopes) are great, but sometimes you’ve just gotta be there.

Tomorrow morning (July 14, 2015) New Horizons will pass Pluto at mach 48 (48 times the speed of sound, which is a misleading and entirely inappropriate way of measuring speed in space). It will furiously take pictures and measurements for a couple hours and then continue into interstellar space, where its docket will be pretty open for the next few million years.

Already New Horizons has sent us the clearest images of Pluto ever.

Unlike the last post in this vein, there’s nothing for you to personally do. But still: now we get to learn stuff about the planet-turned-dwarf-planet that’s been a bit of an asterisk for 85 years. Good times!

Update (July 15, 2015): Huzzah!

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