New Horizons Prepares for Pluto Close-Up
The New Horizons spacecraft is about to capture its prize: a close-up of Pluto. Next week, the probe will zoom within 7,800 miles of the dwarf planet—close enough, says lead scientist Alan Stern, to spot the lakes in Central Park, if the craft were to pass within such a distance of Earth. He says studying the distant ball of rock and ice may give us a peek into the early formation of planets like our own, and clues to how our moon was born.
Alan Stern is Principal Investigator for NASA’s New Horizons mission, and a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute. He’s also co-author of Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto (Picador, 2018). He’s based in Boulder, Colorado.