First pictures of Pluto emerge from New Horizons mission


(WLNS) – It’s a mystery planet no more. The first pictures of Pluto are emerging from NASA and scientists couldn’t be happier.

6 News Justin Kree spoke to NASA officials about Tuesday’s historic event.

Tuesday morning before 8 o’clock New Horizons was the closest to the dwarf planet, studying everything from dust particles to taking first ever pictures of Pluto.

Since January 2006, NASA has been anticipating this day.

“We’re ecstatic at the pictures that came down last night. They were just stunning,” said Paul Schenk, NASA staff scientist, Lunar and Planetary Institute.

Nine and half years ago the country was different, a different administration and Congress. Since that time there was a possibility of calling off the mission.

“The first one or two years, there were a couple cases to where it’s like, well, we’re not so sure we want to fund this anymore. But then, you know, there was some discussion and reevaluations and they said yes we should do this,” said Schenk.

Traveling about 600,000 miles per day at 30,000 miles per hour, Tuesday was the day Pluto took center stage.

Shannon Schmoll is the director of Abrams Planetarium at MSU. She is showing off her own New Horizons spaceship from a 3-D printer. She is overwhelmed to witness this history.

“This is one of the greatest frontiers that we are finally exploring and it’s very, very exciting,” said Shannon Schmoll, director, Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University.

New Horizons is working hard taking pictures, collecting dust particles and studying the atmosphere above the far-away planet.

It will turn its satellite towards Earth and better quality pictures and data, which takes four hours to transmit, will arrive later Tuesday night. The spacecraft will continue on further and deeper into space, exploring uncharted territories of the unknown.

Some say Pluto was demoted to a dwarf planet while others still call it a planet.

6 News asked NASA what they thought and they say in the minds of most people it’s still a planet and that’s all that matters.

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