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I am excited about Pluto

Before this, we knew practically nothing about Pluto.

More about New Horizon's discoveries
What we learned about Pluto in the past 24 hours

New Horizons is this generation's last true explorer. Pluto is the last completely undiscovered frontier. The little spacecraft is the furthest thing anything has ever ventured forth since the now-hallowed Voyager probes.

This is why I'm pissed off when people say 'Blue sky research is a waste of money. Imagine how many people that can feed!"

Yes. Imagine. NASA's budget - as in the whole of it - is merely 20 billion USD. How many? Not very. The US defense budget is 800 billion. They already spend 850 billion in Social Security alone. What more do they expect to take?

Space exploration gives hugely disproportionate returns for money investment. Here are more examples of the many practical things come out of space research.

So I can only cry, "Stop and understand. EXPLORATION IS FEEDING THE SOUL OF MANKIND."

This is what why are on this Earth, to look beyond just the present. To hope, to imagine, to dare, to dream. Knowing more about Pluto and the other distant worlds beyond our own is not 'useless knowledge'. It is knowledge gain in behalf of all humanity, that we should know there is more to life than just the constant struggle. We are part of the cosmos that moves, and a little humility and self-reflection will do us good.

Also, there's still the chance we might discover signs of alien life out there. That would be cool too.

Last update on July 14, 3:49 pm by Carlo Marco Alfonso.
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The fly past of Pluto by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft after a decade long three-billion mile journey is truly a magnificent achievement and one in which mankind can be duly proud.

An interesting extract from New Horizons web site ...
"The New Horizons space craft is the latest in a long line of scientific accomplishments at NASA, including multiple rovers exploring the surface of Mars, the Cassini spacecraft that has revolutionized our understanding of Saturn and the Hubble Space Telescope, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. All of this scientific research and discovery is helping to inform the agency’s plan to send American astronauts to Mars in the 2030’s."

Greg Gibson Owner, Founder and Designer & NewTribeZ Radio

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Latest close-up views of Pluto!

That's a lot of surface detail. Pluto's mountains are actually fairly young in geological scales, only 100 million years old according to data. So the planet, for some reason despite being so cold and so far from the sun, might actually still be tectonically active!

Pluto is far from the sun, but it's not so dark and featureless as we've been conditioned to believe. Its nitrogen and methane atmosphere gives it a warm tan;

Pluto's heart-shaped spot really is heart-shaped! Wow.

Pluto is an unexpected pretty (dwarf) planet. We expected it to be purple and cold and boring, and so it didn't seem like such a great loss to demote it from the ninth planet of the Solar System. Just goes to show we can judge without knowing.

Pluto is cute. CUTE. Who could have expected this?

Now I feel like we threw away the youngest child in the family and it's peering through the glass panes at the well-lit living room within, while still smiling that gap-toothed grin. She's happy enough just to be allowed to stay in the yard.

She sleeps in the doghouse with her puppy, Charon, and they huddle for warmth in the night.

Note to self: stop anthropomorphizing balls of rock. This getting depressing.

Because Pluto is orange.


That's Pluto for us now.


On another note, did you guys and gals know that the New Horizons probe is actually powered by a Playstation CPU? It's expensive enough building something designed to survive a decade out in space, but it doesn't really require that much computing power.

Or, to look at it different, our gaming consoles are absurdly powerful in computational capabilities just for the sake of home entertainment. Your smartphone has far more computational power than everything it took to launch the Moon Landings.


I am overjoyed to be living in this time.

From now on, Pluto will be known as that big-hearted planet. Nevermore the cold, dismal underworld. This is one of things that can be used by future literature major to date when a science fiction story was written. If it calls Pluto boring and featureless, it's before 2015.

I am very guilty of this. I've written stories where Pluto and Charon are used as kinetic kill vehicles because they're 'disposable' parts of the solar system. Destroying them is a convenient way of escalating the dread of planetcrackers. From now on, whenever that happens, I'm going "Oh no! Not Pluto! You bastards!"

Don't break her heart.

Last update on July 17, 4:38 am by Carlo Marco Alfonso.
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I also think the broadening of our knowledge is truly exciting. What great pictures we have been seeing of Pluto.


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More pics about what we know so far. The close-encounter data hasn't even been processed yet.

I am terribly amused that it didn't take long at all to put Mordor and Chthulu out there. Now I'm visualizing Boromir going:

Boromir> One does not simply walk into Mordor.
*Boromir takes a deep breath.
*Boromir flips the table.
*Everyone else stares at him oddly.
Frodo> Um. Moon. Or maybe we could call it one of a binary pair of dwarf planets.
*Everyone else now stares at him instead.
Sam> Why must you be so pedantic, Mister Frodo?
Gandalf> Sauron is indeed a terrible influence, young Gamgee.

Last update on July 18, 2:27 pm by Carlo Marco Alfonso.
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An animation showing the New Horizons Pluto flyby on July 14, 2015.

Last update on August 15, 10:56 pm by Carlo Marco Alfonso.
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An animation showing the New Horizons Pluto flyby on July 14, 2015.

By the way:

As you can see from the timestamps, by the time New Horizons reached Pluto, it only had three minutes to take close readings. Due to the necessity of being able to reach Pluto in a realistic timeframe it is -the- fastest spacecraft ever launched by mankind.

However, because Voyager got gravity assists from slingshotting around all our gas giants instead of Jupiter alone, it remains the fastest spacecraft exiting the solar system. New Horizons will bleed off speed much sooner from the near-imperceptible friction of space dust.

Here is a chart showing what Voyager gained from the assist

Reference: 533356

Ahh. What it must have been like to experience firsthand that age of discovery, the electrifying history of stepping onto the Moon's surface, the thrill from the Voyager probes showing expectant humanity the true face of the planets for the first time. New Horizons is an echo of that era. We should never give up the will to explore.

The world is the cradle of the mind, let it not be a prison.

New Horizon's mission hasn't ended. It's still heading out and will observe the other Kuiper Belt objects beyond Pluto. Who knows, they might be curious dwarf planets with their own unique charms too.
Last update on August 16, 3:15 pm by Carlo Marco Alfonso.
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Sometimes our brain, with its pattern-finding instincts, likes to play tricks on us.

Remember the face on Mars?

There's a screaming face on Nyx.

Oh look, a crashed Klingon Bird of Prey.

But more seriously, some of Pluto's terrain has an interesting snakeskin pattern.

How fascinating! Pluto continues to defy decades of being dismissed as just a boring ball of ice. The more we uncover, the more we learn how wrong it is to judge in ignorance.

Last update on October 2, 7:54 am by Carlo Marco Alfonso.
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