Quirks & Quarks

New Horizons to Pluto and Beyond

The chief scientist on NASA's mission to Pluto discusses how they got there, what they found, and where they're going next.

A look back and ahead at NASA's successful Pluto mission

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      This summer's most dramatic science story was the arrival at Pluto of NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, completing the planetary checklist, as humans, at least remotely, have now visited all the significant planets in our solar system.

      The milestone arrival at Pluto was a personal and professional triumph for Dr. Alan Stern, the principal investigator on the New Horizons mission, an expert in the outer solar system, and a Vice-President at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. Dr. Stern and his colleagues worked from 2001 on New Horizons, which took ten years to get to its destination.

      The flyby produced vivid pictures of the dwarf planet, and vast amounts of important scientific data, including the discovery that tiny, frozen Pluto might actually be a dynamic planet. New Horizons is now on its way to a new destination - a small Kuiper belt object, only one-hundredth the size of Pluto.

      Related Links

      - NASA's New Horizons page
      - John's Hopkins New Horizons page
      - NASA - Announcement of the Next New Horizons target
      Bob's Blog on the Long Road to Pluto
      - Alan Stern - What we found at Pluto
      - CBC News - latest results from Pluto
      Quirks interview in advance of the encounter
      - CBC News stories on Pluto flyby.
      - Video - simulated flyover of Pluto based on New Horizons imagery
      - Video Documentary - The Year of Pluto