After over nine years and over 3 billion miles in space travel NASA’s New Horizon has sent home photos of one of our furthest known friends’ in the solar system, Pluto. Although after the launch the New Horizons spacecraft Pluto was demoted to a “Dwarf Planet” as part of the Kuiper Belt, it was discovered that what was believed to be a small icy is actually much larger than previous estimates and having a red surface. The diameter is now estimated to be 1,473 miles. Pluto’s moons are varying in size too with Charon estimated at 751 miles, Nix at 20 miles and Hydra estimated at 30. The remaining two moons, Kerberos and Styx, have not been given enough observation time to fully determine size. According to Dr. John Grunsfeld, of NASA, Pluto has a variety of surface types and that it possible that snows.
New Horizons is collecting an enormous amount of data for the past decade, to the point where it will take 16 months to send it all home according to a NASA press release. The below photo of Pluto and it’s heart shaped birthmark was taken approximately 7,750 miles above the surface of Pluto. For more information about the New Horizons mission or photos of Pluto go to http://www.nasa.gov/.