ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Education and Science»
  • Astronomy & Space Exploration

To Boldly Go, the Mission to Pluto

Updated on September 26, 2015

To Boldly Go, and the spaceship that went!

We made it! We got there! Okay not me but NASA got there! All the way to the edge of our solar system and right to the limit of "known space" right out to the orbit of the sphere that used to be known as the ninth planet in our solar system, PLUTO.

After an epic ten year journey NASA finally got a spaceship or 'Probe' all the way out to the last outpost of our solar system to have a look around and see what it could tell us about the neighborhood. What did they find?

Meet the neighbor

The New Image of Pluto. taken by the New Horizons space probe a few days ago
The New Image of Pluto. taken by the New Horizons space probe a few days ago | Source

Pluto

First discovered in the early 1930's by astronomer Clyde Tombaugh who was looking for the hypothetical massive planet believed (at the time) to be orbiting out beyond Neptune and affecting the orbit of other planets in the solar system. He was literally looking in the right place at the right time!

Going back as far as the 1840's astronomers were using Newton's calculations to work out that there was at least one more large planet "out there" that was affecting the orbit of the six planets that were known at the time. Not long afterwards Uranus was discovered and then Neptune, but that still didn't explain some of the orbits. Using Newtonian mechanics they were able to work out where to look for the elusive "planet X"

The first person to actually get an image of PLUTO actually did it without realizing he'd got the images!

As early as 1909 observatories were getting images of PLUTO without knowing what they had. On April 7th 1915 Percival Lowell took images of her but still didn't realize what he had, they are the earliest images of PLUTO that we know of!

At first pluto was thought to be about the size of the Earth and was given the designation of being a planet but slowly over the years as astronomers pointed better telescopes at her she seemed to shrink until finally it was realized that she was only about one sixth of the size of the moon.

The first ever pictures of Pluto

The first pictures ever taken. They didn't know what they'd found until much later.
The first pictures ever taken. They didn't know what they'd found until much later. | Source

A voyage to Jupiter

Where is Pluto exactly?

Everyone remembers the lessons from school and each of the planets

1. Mercury, messenger of the 'gods' is the closest to our sun. At about thirty two to six million miles it orbits the sun every 87 days and is roughly half the size of Earth

2. Venus, named after the Roman goddess of love. Second planet from the sun and its pink color gave rise to the name. The truth is Venus has a very thick atmosphere made up primarily of Sulfuric acid making it one of the most inhospitable planets in the solar system. Temperatures on its surface get up to four hundred degrees Celsius (hotter than Mercury). Venus is about sixty million miles from the sun and takes about 240 days to orbit the sun. Venus is unusual in that it's the only planet that rotates from West to East and has no moon that we have found!

3. Earth. At ninety three million miles the distance of Earth from the sun is called an Astronomical Unit (AU) and is used to record the distances from the sun for all the planets (Mercury is .4, Venus is .7 Earth is 1 AU)

4. Mars. The Roman god of war is a red planet that Ancient men always saw Mars as the 'god' of the warrior. Mars is 1.2 Astronomical Units (AU) or one hundred and twenty million miles from the sun and takes three years to make a full orbit.

5. Jupiter. Was the chief 'god' in the Roman pantheon. Jupiter moves between 4.9 AU (500,000,000 miles) and 5.2 AU (550,000,000 miles) It is about eleven hundred times the size of the Earth and two and a half times the size of all the other planets in the solar system combined, it takes eleven years to orbit the sun.

6. Saturn. Another Gas giant. Saturn and Jupiter are the 'big boys' of the solar system that help protect the smaller inner planets from meteorite or comet strike. Saturn is 10 AU (600,000,000 miles) from the sun and takes 26 years to orbit the sun.

7. Uranus. Was the first planet that was found in relatively modern times. Uranus orbits about 19.2 AU (2 billion miles) from the sun and takes about 84 years to orbit the sun. Uranus actually rotates at a very steep incline that makes it's seasons literally last twenty years!

8. Neptune. The Roman god of the sea Neptune is the last of the fully fledged planets in the system. Neptune and Pluto are the only two to be predicted using mathematical calculations. It's a whopping 30 AU (that's thirty times the distance of the Earth) from the sun (about 3.500,000,000 miles) from the sun orbit and takes about 164 years to orbit the sun

9. Pluto. Roman 'god' of the underworld Pluto is furthest out. the orbit is actually more like an egg in shape that swings between 39 AU (about four billion miles) and 49 AU (about 5.5 billion miles from the sun and takes 250 years to orbit the sun.

Pluto is a long way from the sun and what's strange is that all the other planets orbit on a plane, but tilt that plane by about 30 degrees and that's where Pluto is.

Our Solar System

Why did we go?

After the initial disovery interest was lost in Pluto until the 1970's when things started to be noticed. Pluto was thought to be just a frozen rock out in space with very little relevance, then Charon was discovered.Charon is Pluto's biggest Moon (at the time it was the only Moon we knew about and it was roughly half the size of Pluto)

At last we could use Charon to compare and find out how small Pluto actually was and it was a disappointing one fifth the size of the Earth, still big enough that it's own gravity pulled it into a sphere but not much more and probably no atmosphere!

By the 1980's Pluto was on it's way into the Solar system (actually on it's way nearer than it had been for two hundred years!) and scientists started to notice some things that shouldn't be there! Scientists had thought that Pluto had no atmosphere but all of a sudden they saw that there was gas (Methane) on Pluto and it was losing the gas at incredible speed. instruments were pointed at the planet and it was discovered that Pluto actually had an atmosphere but it was frozen! Literally a blanket of frozen Methane covered the planet!


What was found

New Horizons

Only slightly larger than the average fridge the New Horizons spacecraft has been on it's way to Pluto since 2006 when it was launched. But the planning for the mission goes back to around the early 1990's when NASA was looking for ways to explore the solar system 'on a budget' (if you call half a billion dollars that!)

But the goal has always been to try and answer some of the Comets questions that have plagued scientists since the first theories of how the universe and solar system were formulated. They hoped that by sending a craft out to the furthest reaches of the solar system they'd get answers.

Questions like

1. If the solar system is 4 billion years old then why do comets still have tails? Comets are covered with ice, as they come in towards the sun they shed the ice in space, that shedding of the ice causes the 'tail' of the comet, as the comet journeys through the system it loses it's ice. By now the comets should have lost all the ice so if the solar system is that old then there has to be a place where the ice is replenished!

2. How can Pluto be 4 billion years old and still losing it's atmosphere? it should have been gone billions of years ago!

3. How dense is the Kuiper Belt?


By 2006 bodies had been discovered in the Kuiper Belt that forced the international Astronomical society to ask what a 'planet' really is? Four other small 'planets' had been discovered that threw the whole idea of what a planet is into question.

They settled on three criteria

  1. It orbits the sun
  2. It's massive enough that it's own gravity pulled it into spherical shape
  3. It is big enough to clear it's orbital path of all debris

Pluto qualifies on two of these counts, but it's in the middle of the Kuiper Belt, a debris field that it shares with three other objects, Eris is bigger than Pluto (but not as dense) Haumea and Makemake are also there with Sedna even further out. All these were found since 2006!

New Horizons mission was to go an literally take a look at some of these bodies and see what it can tell us.

And what it has told us has blown scientists away!

The new story

Pluto, it turns out is a young planet! At least it's surface is young! Scientists expected to find a scarred shell of a planet beaten by meteors and comets, what they've found is a planet that is amazingly young looking!

Look at the pictures of the planet, you'll see whole large areas that are smooth looking! That's because there are no impact craters there! Somehow the planet is either a lot younger than thought or it's able to renew it's crust! At the moment no one is sure which it is!

The frozen atmosphere is a lot thinner than expected. it turns out that Pluto has an atmosphere of Methane, Nitrogen and Carbon Monoxide and Pluto's atmosphere is being vented much faster than previously thought! It's losing Methane and Nitrogen at the rate of 500 tons per hour! and the gas is escaping at speeds faster than sound can travel!

By comparison Mars is much bigger and is losing it's atmosphere at the rate on 1 ton every hour. Mars' atmosphere is so thin it's like being at the edge of the Earth's atmosphere!

If Pluto was 4 billion years old then that atmosphere should have been lost billions of years ago! but it's still there and still escaping! How?

Mountains of Ice! And I literally mean MOUNTAINS 11,000 feet tall and up to 100 miles long! And all this should not be there if the planet was as old as it's supposed to be!

From here to Eternity?

New Horizons is actually powered by a small Nuclear reactor on board (not the propulsion system but the instruments) that can run for up to 35 years so the scientists are hoping to send it farther out into the Belt to see what's out there, they have some ideas what they want to go look at but said that the decision wouldn't be made until after the Pluto visit and then they'd approach NASA for funding to keep the mission going (I mean they've got the craft out there so why not) in the hope of unlocking some of the mysteries of our neighborhood.

So far the ship has traveled 4 billion miles to get where it is now and is traveling at around 50,000 miles an hour but the next leg of the journey the scientists say will take two years but that's OK as they also say it's going to take those two years to work out what answers New Horizons sent back from Pluto!

Latest update (23/8/15)

Okay I used the European way of dating this with the day at the beginning! The team at New Horizons are studying the data that they now have from the spacecraft and they've already come to some conclusions.

Firstly the surface seems smooth because it is being renewed from within the dwarf planet! that means that somewhere inside there is a heat source keeping the Nitrogen above it's freezing point and every so often it is erupting like a Geyser and freezing at the same time as it erupts where it then settles on the surface and melts again only to vent into space at the rate of about a thousand tons every hour!

They ruled out meteor strikes as the source as the data indicates that Pluto doesn't get anywhere near as many as would be needed to replenish the Nitrogen, the question now is how does a place so small store so much Nitrogen that it can keep doing this for the seeming billions of years?

Pluto is regarded as too small to have Nuclear reaction going on to generate the heat needed for this so we still have a lot of unanswered questions, but we'll keep looking.

Stunning photos

New Horizons flyby
New Horizons flyby | Source
Pluto at 'twilight'
Pluto at 'twilight' | Source
Not a fake! You couldn't get a more awesome photo!
Not a fake! You couldn't get a more awesome photo! | Source

Where to now?

Just a few weeks ago the folks from NASA finally got to sit with the team from New Horizons and plan the next part of the journey. There was always going to be a 'next part' with the way the spacecraft was built but at the time they were thinking about so many things that the decision of where to after Pluto was left until after Pluto!

At the time of the Launch we were only just finding out about some of the bodies 'out there' and what we were finding out was blowing the science community away so they had so much to think about that they just couldn't commit to anything.

To date the furthest object out that we know about is a dwarf planet that has been named Sedna after one of the Norse gods and it's literally twenty times further from the sun than Pluto is (and that's at it's closest point!) It takes about ten thousand years to orbit the sun and even getting close to it is way beyond anything we can hope to achieve in the next hundred years!

Five possibilities were identified in 2010 but only three were given serious consideration, the problem was that even the closest one is a further billion miles from the sun and will take two years for the little craft to get there, It's called 2014MU69 (a really good name for a mission?) an asteroid about 40 miles across and thought to be about 15 miles wide. There were a number of other contenders but the final destination had to take into account the fuel that the little craft can carry and what if can do when it gets there.

The asteroid as another 1 billion miles further out than Pluto and it'll take at least two years to get there. New Horizons is expected to arrive around January of 2019 but all that is subject to NASA actually getting funding for the mission as the funding isn't due to be discussed until next year! The reason for the decision now is simply by 2016 it would be too late to make the course corrections necessary for the trip.

Good luck and Godspeed little ship.

Take a ride with NASA

Conclusion

I think God must be Jewish!

I don't mean it in a nasty way but as I read my Bible and as I remember from my time in the Middle East I see that the Eastern way of answering a question was with another question! Jesus did it all the time, and as I look at the data that the team from New Horizons has put out it's almost as if we went out there to ask questions of the cosmos only to get answers back in the form of more questions!

Example of what I mean

Q How old is Pluto?

A Either I'm not very old (100,000,000 years was the figure they said) or I'm renewing my crust in some way you've no idea how so you work it out! (or both!!)

Q If you're so old Pluto then how come you still have an atmosphere?

A It's frozen most of the time. But I'm still losing it much faster than you thought! (you knew it was frozen but not how fast I can shed it when it's defrosted!)You work it out!

Only one thing is sure and that is that Pluto is throwing up more surprises than anyone thought possible and the scientists are having great fun trying to work the answers out.And all from a dwarf that everyone thought would be a boring place!

Where would you go

If you could choose a planet to visit, which would it be?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 2 years ago

      Thank you for the photos and updated information.

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      For anyone interested I just uploaded some info on 'where to now'? and a couple of stunning photos at the end. They are worth it!

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 2 years ago

      An interesting article that has good information and good questions. It is amazing we have sent probes to all the planets, Pluto, and have a probe in interstellar space. On top of that we all get to see pictures of these space travels.

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      No body.

      I read an interesting comment by one of the scientists involved in the New Horizons mission the other day that they went fully expecting to see a meteor battered dead world, what the found was a "Jaw dropping inexplicably alive wonderfully confusing place that's changing the way we see the outer solar system!" What more can be said!

      I tbink God ishaving fun with the scientists as he sets them the challenge of working out just how did he do it?

      Gladyou liked it

      Patty

      There is so much amazing stuff coming out of the New Horizons that its well worth a look! In the last few days they've announced they found four other moons for Pluto!

      Glad you enjoyed the hub and thank you both for the votes up

      Lawrence

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 2 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I want to travel to Saturn and fly around the rings!

      Thanks for this informative and entertaining Hub about Pluto. I've not had time to read much else about it, so welcomed your writing. rated Up and many more.

    • no body profile image

      Robert E Smith 2 years ago from Rochester, New York

      I loved your article. I had heard the questions you posed about the age of the planets before, such as those about atmosphere loss and age and ice on comets. It was posed by scientists of ICR, Institute of Creation Research. They have many many questions all adding up to the same thing. We have a young solar system that. I am amazed at the number of scientists that are coming over to the Creationist viewpoint. I loved this article. Voted up and interesting.

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Phoenix2327

      Thank you for the visit. Getting there was an achievement to be celebrated. The questions we've come away with will give scientists years of work to fathom out!

      Lawrence

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 2 years ago from United Kingdom

      Fascinating hub. I'm not that into astronomy but I really enjoyed reading this. Well done.

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Chris

      I think when we get to heaven and get the chance to ask "which one is right abouth the age of the universe? Science or the Bible?"

      God's reply coild well be "Both! But man understood neither!" Just a thought :)

      Lawrence

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Chris

      First of all thank you for the "best answer" on the age of the Earth.

      I think I've come to a similar conclusion that you have. Science is telling us some amazing stuff at the moment. I found out tiday that Pluto had a "tail" like the comets that visit from time to time!

      There is so much that science is telling us but one word the scientists tell us it's screaming at us is CREATOR! Glad you enjoyed it

      Lawrence

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Missoula, Montana at least until March 2018

      How old is our solar system? It seems we need to rethink the issue. I have no need to accept 4 billion years. That was an estimate based on incomplete knowledge. Our understanding the universe will always be based on incomplete information. Is the universe 14 billion years old. It's an outdated guess. It's better than believing 6 thousand years based on a mishandling the Bible's genealogies, but this isn't an either/or decision. Both can be wrong. I appreciate you passing on to us this kind of information.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 2 years ago from Missoula, Montana at least until March 2018

      How old is the our solar system? It seems we need to rethink the issue. I have no need to accept 4 billion years. That was an estimate based on incomplete knowledge. Our understanding the universe will always be based on incomplete information. Is the universe 14 billion years old. It's and outdated guess. It's better than believing 6 thousand years based on a mishandling the Bible's genealogies, but this isn't an either/or decision. Both can be wrong. I appreciate you passing on to us this kind of information.

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Word55

      I reckon that's what most of us feel. Truth is as we look at the planets (and dwarf planets) thats when we realize just how special the Earth really is!

      I'd love to go and see our solar system, but coming home would be that much more special!

      Personally I think it will be a long time before we send astronauts out that far, but it's missions like these that pioneer the technology.

      Shows us how special God wanted the Earth to be!

      Blessings

      Lawrence

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Aviannovice

      Pluto is amazing and the stuff we've learned/seen is changing our understanding of how our solar system was put together.

      The next part of the plan is to send New Horizons to a rock in the Kuiper belt. Theh are hoping to get some understanding of how comets happen but if Pluto is anything to go by we'll only end up with more questions!

      Thank you for the comment

      Lawrence

    • word55 profile image

      Word 2 years ago from Chicago

      Well lawrence, you've got me on this one. I love mother earth too much to ever leave it. From what I've seen and heard of other planets, There's no place like home BUT it is good to learn about other planets. You did an excellent research and writing job here. I learned a lot. Thanks for sharing!

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Nell

      So sorry not to have replied earlier. I thought I had but must have hit the wrong button!

      Quantum physics is one of the strangest things in science. Pretty much all I know of it is that the normal laws of physics are good until you get to things the atom then things 'go sideways'

      I can well imagine the discussions around the dinner table!

      Glad you enjoyed the hub. The latest thing I read yesterday is that scientists have ruled out an internal nuclear reaction as the source of Pluto's heat as they think the planet is too small! They have no idea at present what it is.

      Lawrence

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      There is so much more in our solar system, and just think what is elsewhere. I can only hope to learn more in this lifetime. Thanks for bringing up more questions to have fun with.

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Graham

      Thank you for the visit and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

      Lawrence

    • old albion profile image

      Graham Lee 2 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Lawrence. A brilliant hub. Full of interesting info and so much food for thought. I enjoyed it.

      voted up and all.

      Graham.

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Larry

      What New Horizons has shown us has totally dumbfounded scientists! They went expecting a cold "ball of ice" but what they found is a little ball that yes, it is covered in ice but it's able to keep itself warm. It looks younger than it should and has an atmosphere that is escaping at uncredible speed!

      Glad you enjoyed the hub

      Lawrence

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      Hi, I love Astronomy, I grew up with it. My brother is Space mad! I love Quantum Physics so I always say bro loves the big I love the little! lol! but yes this is an amazing achievement, and I think we should put more money into Space exploration than what we do now, as Prof. brian Cox says, they pump more money into stupid things like makeup, tv programs etc than something worthwhile like science! great hub! voted up and shared, nell

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Recently they've found out a great deal about Pluto. Interesting,

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Faith reaper

      Sorry its taken me so long to get back to you. Thank you for the visit and yes it is amazing that the little craft got all the way out to Pluto! Five years planning and a ten year flight, interestingly they used New Horizons to have a closer look at Jupiter and Saturn on the way (so they got their money's worth).

      The questions I used are the same ones the scientists are asking at the moment. New Horizons is still transmitting the initial data (they say it'll take six weeks to recieve it all!) and it'll take upto two years to figure it all out!

      Bet your brother is having a great time working through all this!

      Glad you enjoyed the hub

      Lawrence

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      They are trying, but scientists are taking things 'as they are' and pushing ahead anyway.

      What they are thrilled about is the fact that it'll be two centuries before we get another visit from Pluto

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Hmm, maybe it was wishful thinking on my part Lawrence. I must have read somewhere that people were trying to have its status restored and thought it had been.

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Jodah

      Thank you for the visit. Pluto's "planet" status hasn't been restored (sorry) but what's happening is much better.

      Pluto is now officially the largest "Dwarf planet" in our system and the undisputed "King of the Kuiper belt"

      It has challenged scientists in so many ways that they almost don't know where to begin. Literally changing the way we see the cosmos that even a frozen place like Pluto (surface temp is -240 deg celcius in sunlight!) A few more degrees colder and even the atoms would freeze yet Pluto is shooting water out its core that is freezing as it comes out!

      Glad you enjoyed the hub

      Lawrence

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Great hub Lawrence. I have always had an interest in astronomy and was upset when Pluto lost its planet status. Glad it was restored. It's good that New Horizons has arrived there...amazing what something so small that runs on little energy can do. I still remember the rhyme we had at school to remember the order of planets from the sun. "my very enormous mouse just sat under Neville's plate. Great info here that will help me in my series of poems "Space Shanty and Traveller's Guide to the Galaxy"...voted up.

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Linda

      You're right there. Juggling between the thirst for knowledge and just taking care of the basics shouldn't even be a competition!

      For me one important thing is that one day (with the way our population is going) we're going to need more space just to live!

      When I was born we had 3 billion people, now fifty four years later we have 7 billion and its expected to reach 10 billion by 2050!

      We need somewhere to put them! If we wait until then it'll be too late. We need to be working on a solution now and I think that (short of Jesus coming back) this is a good way to safely develop some of the technology we're going to need.

      I just hope that going 'out there' reminds us that each life is precious!

      Glad it made you stop and think

      Lawrence

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Genna

      The more we "have a look" at the place where we live I think the more we are amazed at how wonderful the Earth really is

      She's precious and wonderfully put together, I just hope that looking at our system will help us understand better how to look after "Spaceship Earth"

      Glad you enjoyed the hub

      Lawrence

    • lawrence01 profile image
      Author

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      You posed the dilemma that everyone is faced with. Do we look to explore and satisfy our curiosity with all the future and possible benefits? Or do we take care of people in need here and now?

      Personally I'm glad that I don't get to make that decision! I'm glad we have cut baxk in some areas to increase our resources for those who need the help.

      To me what was interesting is most of these scientists have spent nearly thirty years working towards the goal and that is amazing!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

      How fascinating, Lawrence. I am amazed by these new findings and that we were able to send a craft that far out into the solar system, as you say to visit our neighbor. You have posed interesting questions for sure.

      My brother is a planetary geologist and I know he is fascinated about these discoveries.

      Up ++++ and away

      God bless you

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      I have to agree with Bill on this one. Space exploration is fascinating, but I wonder if the money could have been better spent. There are so many homeless, starving, dying right here on our little blue marble.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      I am fascinated by what we continue to learn about the universe, and its countless, myriad inhabitants. Very interesting article...thank you! :-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I am so torn about the space program. I understand man's need to explore, and I understand the scientific benefits of it, but I can't help but think of social programs that could benefit so much from the money spent on the space program. Having said all that, it really is pretty cool that we can now see bodies like Pluto.