New Horizons phoned home today!

New Horizons, an interplanetary space probe that was launched on January 19, 2006, passed by the dwarf planet, Pluto and took the best pictures to date of the distant plutoid.  Yesterday, New Horizons sent back the following picture of Pluto.

Pluto picture
Pluto from New Horizons on 7/13/2015.

The best picture previous to New Horizons was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1994, shown below.

Pluto from Hubble picture
Pluto and its moon, Charon, as revealed by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope in 1994

On July 14, 2015 05:49 MDT, the New Horizons spacecraft flew 12,600 km (7,800 mi) from the surface of Pluto, taking more pictures and gathering more sensor data.  In the next few days and weeks, this data will be sent back to earth, providing even better pictures of Pluto, up to 10 times the resolution of the picture sent just a day before now.

Congratulations to the New Horizons team for the success of their mission that began January 8, 2001.  I hope it continues generating new discoveries far into the future.