New Horizons first probe to reach pluto! | Summary and Q&A

July 14, 2015
Physics Girl
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New Horizons first probe to reach pluto!


After a nine-year journey, the New Horizons probe successfully reaches Pluto, providing unprecedented images and data about the icy dwarf planet.

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Key Insights

  • 🇳🇨 The New Horizons probe successfully reached Pluto, capturing images and data that provide insights into its geology and composition.
  • ✊ New Horizons utilizes a nuclear-powered generator to generate enough energy for its nine-year journey, as solar power becomes insufficient near Pluto.
  • 🥹 The Kuiper Belt, a doughnut-shaped region, holds dwarf planets and other small bodies and will be explored by New Horizons after leaving Pluto.
  • 👨‍🚀 Voyager 1 was the first man-made object to reach interstellar space, while Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, Voyager 2, and New Horizons are expected to follow suit.
  • 😮 Previous missions to other planets have revealed unexpected surprises, and scientists anticipate being surprised once again by what is discovered on Pluto.
  • 🙈 New Horizons completes its journey to Pluto after traveling nearly five billion kilometers, with no chance of seeing it again but carrying mementos and a message from Earth.
  • 🤩 The One Earth project offers an opportunity for people to send digital messages to the stars through the New Horizons probe.


Today-- well, July 14, 2015, if you're not watching on the date-- is the last time we will ever explore a new body that has ever been classified as a planet in our solar system. Pluto. Woo! We are flying a probe by Pluto for the first time. Up until now, Pluto has been a dot, a smear, a few pixels. But the New Horizons probe is on its closest appro... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What kind of data is New Horizons collecting during its flyby of Pluto?

New Horizons is equipped with detectors analyzing Pluto's atmosphere, searching for atmospheres around Pluto's moons, measuring solar wind, atmospheric temperature, and space dust.

Q: How does New Horizons generate power during its journey?

Instead of relying on solar power, New Horizons utilizes a radioisotope thermal electric generator, which uses nuclear energy and can produce 200 watts of power.

Q: How many probes have been sent to explore Pluto?

New Horizons is the first and only probe to have been launched to explore Pluto.

Q: Are there any plans for space exploration after the New Horizons mission?

NASA has plans to explore Europa, one of Jupiter's moons, and hopes to receive more data from probes about solar tidal waves reaching interstellar space.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • July 14, 2015, marks the historic day when the New Horizons probe made its closest approach to Pluto, capturing images of previously unseen features.

  • The probe's findings reveal complex terrains, possible frozen methane, nitrogen, or carbon monoxide frost, and provide insights into Pluto's geology.

  • New Horizons will continue its mission to explore the objects in the Kuiper Belt before eventually leaving the solar system.

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