The incredible mission to Pluto could forever revolutionize the scientific world -- and here's why.
NASA’s New Horizons flyby mission of Pluto may completely revolutionize future exploration efforts in the solar system, and it is likely to leave a major mark on the science world for years or perhaps decades or even centuries to come.
New Horizons flew by the dwarf planet Pluto back on July 14, capturing incredible images that mesmerized the world, and it will be sending back data to Earth for months on both Pluto and its five moons, including its largest, Charon, according to a Space.com report.
The observations of New Horizons are already completely changing how scientists understand Pluto, and its findings have surprised them, including its dynamic and complex surface. New Horizons will also give scientists a glimpse of the Kuiper Belt far beyond the orbit of Neptune, our most distant planet.
Scientists remain excited because they haven’t even scratched the surface of the data from Pluto, which is coming back from New Horizons in bits and pieces. And the spacecraft could make a flyby of a second Kuiper Belt object in 2019 as a nice little bonus.
There’s been enormous interest in the Pluto mission, and it has spurred renewed interest in space exploration, especially in light of other recent accomplishments, like the landing of a probe on a comet late last year, and the recent close up view of the dwarf planet Ceres and its bright spots by the Dawn spacecraft.
Pluto gives scientists a glimpse into the ice “third realm” of our solar system — the first realm being the rocky planets in which we reside, and the second being the gas giants like Saturn and Jupiter. Pluto sits in that realm along with many other icy bodies in the Kuiper Belt, and this is the first time scientists have gotten a good look at a Kuiper Belt object.