‘A hallmark moment in human history’ as New Horizons’ epic journey culminates in Pluto flyby

Above is the last and most detailed image of Pluto sent to Earth before the moment of closest approach - 7:49 a.m. EDT. This stunning image of the dwarf planet was captured from New Horizons at about 4 p.m. EDT on July 13, about 16 hours before the moment of closest approach. The spacecraft was 766,000 kilometres from the surface. Members of the New Horizons science team react to the image.

“This is truly a hallmark in human history,” said John Grunsfeld, NASA’s science mission chief.

The United States is now the only nation to visit every single planet in the solar system. Pluto was No. 9 in the lineup when New Horizons departed Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Jan. 19, 2006, but was demoted seven months later to dwarf status. Scientists in charge of the US$720 million mission, as well as NASA officials, hope the new observations will restore Pluto’s honour.

PHOTOS: NASA, Bill Ingalls

Pluto New Horizons is a true mission of exploration showing us why basic scientific research is so important.
– John Grunsfeld, Associate Administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate 

When approaching Venus in the early days of planetary exploration by spacecraft, we speculated wildly, throwing our best guesses at what lay beneath the Venusian atmospheric shroud. As our technology improved, we sent our Venera, Pioneer, Magellan, and Mariner spacecraft to our sister planet, determined to uncover the source of her unapologetically hellish conditions. Once it was revealed that Venus represented the most extreme example (so far) of a runaway greenhouse effect, our morning and evening star became a next-door laboratory for Earth’s worst case scenario.

Spacecraft missions Mariner 6 and 7 along with Vikings 1 and 2 performed similar experiments when studying Mars. Upon approach, however, it was observed (postulated beforehand by astronomer Carl Sagan) that Mars experienced hemisphere-engulfing dust storms that blanketed the surface features from view. Mars slowly showcased its long awaited mysteries when our patient robotic emissaries orbiting the Red Planet communicated to us features contrary to our sci-fi projections of an alien civilization redirecting water from the poles through canals and Martian channels. Just as Venus had, Mars provided us further questions, and entirely new mysteries to solve. Yet another neighboring world which would serve as an extra-terrestrial lab for us to inquire into its quite obviously bereft water source, and its history as a planet that remains in a Shrodinger-like “dead or alive” phase. 

Now, with New Horizons’ recent flyby of the enigmatic castaway in our solar system, we are once again reeling with giddy anticipation from the images slowly being returned to us bit by bit, Pluto subtly lifting its veil on 85 years of curiosity. And a worthy wait it has been, because - dwarf planet or not - Pluto has much to teach us about Earth’s origins, the formation of the solar system itself, and ultimately, our own (as Bill Nye describes) “place in space.” 

Congratulations to the New Horizons team from NASA and APL to everywhere and everyone in between for a successful #PlutoFlyBy mission poised to rewrite history by revealing to us how the pages were put together in the first place. 

– The Endeavorist Team

s/o to syldenn for the stellar Pluto fan art :)


Tomorrow, July 11th (by close of business) is the final day to RSVP for the American Astronautical Society’s 60th Anniversary event!

And yes, you read that right. Astronauts and Scientists. Not just any astronauts and scientists either…

…Charles Bolden (NASA Administrator), John Grunsfeld (Associate Administrator of NASA’s Mission Science Directorate), Sandra Magnus (Executive Director of the AIAA or American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics)…all of which will be speaking on our panel to discuss the film!

Beforehand, however, the AAS Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Dr. Edward Stone!

Not familiar with Stone? Edward Stone was the Former Director of JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) and the Lead Project Scientist for a little spacecraft you may know…

…that’s right. Ed Stone has been working with the Voyager spacecraft since the Grand Tour Mission. And what a time for an event like this to celebrate the man, as Voyager 1 was just confirmed “interstellar” (again) via data transmitted back from deep space!

So, if you can make it, join us on July 16th from 6pm-9pm in the National Academy of Sciences Building, for an evening of cosmic proportions :)


Yesterday, former astronaut John Grunsfeld came over to the startorial side when he wore this planet tie for a Pluto Flyby briefing on NASA TV. HE IS ONE OF US NOW! 

The tie is available from multiple outlets: Armstrong Air & Space Museum,,

- Summer

#TBT Felt pretty out of this world to hang with former NASA astronaut John Grunsfeld, former NASA astronaut & current NASA Chief Admin Charles Bolden, and Lead Project Scientist for the Voyager spacecraft & CalTech Physics Professor Edward Stone (who was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award that evening) during the screening of ‘I Want To Be An Astronaut’ in the National Academy of Sciences Building in DC for the American Astronautical Society’s 60th Anniversary.

Humbling doesn’t even cover it. So much stellar in one image. I’ve never felt closer to Carl Sagan than engaging with one of the most influential men responsible for the Voyager’s’ success.

NASA seleccionó a 2014 MU69 como nuevo objetivo de New Horizons

NASA seleccionó a 2014 MU69 como nuevo objetivo de New Horizons

En la imagen, muy procesada, vemos a 2014 MU69, un Objeto del Cinturón de Kuiper (OCK), que sería sobrevolado por New Horizons el 1º de enero de 2.019. 2014 MU69 aparece señalado con un círculo verde, en la imagen captada por el Telescopio Espacial Hubble. Crédito de la imagen: Equipo New Horizons/Alex Parker La nave espacial New Horizons tiene un nuevo objetivo de investigación: 2014 MU69. Según…

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NASA’s New Horizons Team Selects Potential Kuiper Belt Flyby Target

NASA has selected the potential next destination for the New Horizons mission to visit after its historic July 14 flyby of the Pluto system. The destination is a small Kuiper Belt object (KBO) known as 2014 MU69 that orbits nearly a billion miles beyond Pluto.

This remote KBO was one of two identified as potential destinations and the one recommended to NASA by the New Horizons team.  Although NASA has selected 2014 MU69 as the target, as part of its normal review process the agency will conduct a detailed assessment before officially approving the mission extension to conduct additional science.

“Even as the New Horizon’s spacecraft speeds away from Pluto out into the Kuiper Belt, and the data from the exciting encounter with this new world is being streamed back to Earth, we are looking outward to the next destination for this intrepid explorer,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and chief of the NASA Science Mission Directorate at the agency headquarters in Washington. “While discussions whether to approve this extended mission will take place in the larger context of the planetary science portfolio, we expect it to be much less expensive than the prime mission while still providing new and exciting science.”

Read more ~

Image credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Alex Parker

NASA Scientists Hope to Find Alien Life on Jupiter's Moon Europa

NASA Scientists Hope to Find Alien Life on Jupiter’s Moon Europa


Do we have neighbors on Jupiter’s moon Europa? That’s what NASA officials want to find out, and they asked scientists at a workshop earlier this week to consider ways to search for alien life within plumes of water vapor that seem to shoot from the moon’s surface, reports.


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NASA'dan Beklenen Haber Geldi

NASA, Dünya'dan bin 400 ışık yılı uzaklıktaki Kuğu takım yıldızında Dünya'ya benzeyen bir gezegen bulunduğunu açıkladı.

ABD Ulusal Havacılık ve Uzay Dairesi (NASA), Dünya'dan bin 400 ışık yılı uzaklıktaki Kuğu takım yıldızında Dünya'ya benzeyen bir gezegen bulunduğunu açıkladı. NASA'nın Washington'daki merkezinde düzenlenen basın toplantısında 2009 yılında uzaya gönderilen Kepler teleskobu ile keşfedilen ve Kepler-452b adı verilen gezegenin, yörüngesindeki yıldızdan yüzeyinde su birikebileceği kadar uzaklıkta bulunması anlamına gelen "yaşanabilir mesafede" yer aldığı belirtildi. NASA üst düzey yetkililerinden John Grunsfeld, toplantıda yaptığı açıklamada, “İnsanoğlunun evrendeki diğer güneşlerin yörüngelerinde de gezegenler bulunduğunu keşfinin 20. yıl dönümünde Kepler teleskobu, tıpkı Güneş ve Dünya'ya benzeyen bir yıldızla gezegen buldu. Elde ettiğimiz heyecan verici sonuçlar, bizi evrende ikinci Dünya'yı bulmaya bir adım daha yaklaştırıyor” ifadelerini kullandı. Kepler Veri Analiz Bölümü'nden Jon Jenkins, “Kepler-452b'yi Dünya'nın daha yaşlı ve daha büyük kuzeni olarak tanımlayabiliriz. Gezegen, Dünya'nın nasıl yaşanabilir bir yer haline geldiğini anlamamıza yardımcı olacak” dedi. Kaynak: AA #Dünya, #Gezegen, #GÜNEŞ, #JohnGrunsfeld, #Nasa Son Haber Kıbrıs - Son Dakika Kıbrıs, KKTC Haberleri, Türkiye ve Dünya Haberleri -
MESSENGER se estrelló contra la superficie de Mercurio

MESSENGER se estrelló contra la superficie de Mercurio

Esta es la última imagen enviada por la nave espacial MESSENGERel 30 de abril de 2.015, antes de estrellarse en Mercurio. Se trata de una zona del piso del cráter Jokai, de 93 metros de diámetro adquirida por el instrumento Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS). La imagen cubre 1 kilómetro de superficie, con una resolución de 2,1 metros por píxel. Crédito de la imagen: NASA/Johns Hopkins University…

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Pluto close-up: Spacecraft makes flyby of icy, mystery world

Pluto close-up: Spacecraft makes flyby of icy, mystery world

Associated Press

By Marcia Dunn

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — We’ve made it to Pluto by NASA’s calculations, the last stop on a planetary tour of the solar system a half-century in the making.

The moment of closest approach for the New Horizons spacecraft came at 7:49 a.m. EDT Tuesday, culminating a journey from planet Earth that spanned an incredible 3 billion miles and 9½ years.

Based on…

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SM4: Astronaut Andrew Feustel and WFC3

But for the absence of gravity, astronaut Andrew Feustel, perched on the end of the remote manipulator system arm, would be a bit top heavy as he helps to install the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) during a May 14 spacewalk to perform work on the Hubble Space Telescope. Out of frame is veteran astronaut John Grunsfeld, his spacewalking crewmate. The pair kicked off five back to back days of extravehicular activity for the STS-125 crew. Feustel and Grunsfeld will participate in two of the remaining four spacewalks.

Credit: NASA

The biggest surprise to me is that I never saw any place where I couldn’t see the impact of humans— even the oceans. You can see smoke coming off the east coast of China, smoke and dust, travelling all the way across to the Yukon. These are things that the human eye can see.
—  John Grunsfeld, former astronaut and new head of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, in an interview with Nature.