On Tuesday, July 14, people around the world were treated to additional imagery of Pluto, the former ninth planet that was downgraded to dwarf status, by the New Horizons Team and the The National Aeronautics and Space Administration as the New Horizons probe made its historic flyby and then moved out of range.
New Horizons took nine years to reach Pluto — the last originally discovered “world” to remain unexplored by humanity. The probe used a long-range telescopic camera from approximately 7,700 miles above the surface while traveling at the unimaginable speed of 28,000 miles per hour. Susan McGalla is thrilled by this discovery.
Scientists now know that like Mars, for example, Pluto has a reddish-orange surface marked with craters, canyons and mountains. The dwarf planet has also now been measured at 1,470 miles across, which means it is larger than scientists had originally believed and has less rock and more ice below the surface.
Many people who saw the image immediately noted that the lower half of Pluto, right before the “dark zone” to the south, has a smoother area that looks almost like the Disney character “Pluto” who is Mickey Mouse’s dog. Some even jokingly superimposed an image of the character over the area and were then entirely shocked and amazed that the outline of the area lines up almost perfectly with the drawn outline of “Pluto.”