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Pluto Mission Gets A Poetic Tribute

NPR's Skunk Bear YouTube

Tuesday morning, the New Horizons space probe zipped past Pluto going 30,000 miles per hour. It carries the ashes of the man who discovered the dwarf planet, along with several spectrometers to analyze Pluto's surface and one telescopic camera.

That camera has been busy for the past decade, snapping hundreds of photos of Jupiter first, and then Pluto. Those images were stitched together to create this video. The words that accompany the video come from Ray Bradbury, who read his poem "If Only We Had Taller Been" at a celebration of a NASA mission to Mars in 1971.

It's easy to understand the success of the New Horizons mission by looking at two pictures. This used to be our best image of Pluto, captured by the Hubble Telescope.

This image was constructed from multiple NASA Hubble Space Telescope photographs taken from 2002 to 2003. i

This image was constructed from multiple NASA Hubble Space Telescope photographs taken from 2002 to 2003. NASA, ESA, and M. Buie/Southwest Research Institute hide caption

toggle caption NASA, ESA, and M. Buie/Southwest Research Institute
This image was constructed from multiple NASA Hubble Space Telescope photographs taken from 2002 to 2003.

This image was constructed from multiple NASA Hubble Space Telescope photographs taken from 2002 to 2003.

NASA, ESA, and M. Buie/Southwest Research Institute

Now we know that Pluto looks like this.

The last image of Pluto taken by New Horizons. i

The last image of Pluto taken by New Horizons. NASA hide caption

toggle caption NASA
The last image of Pluto taken by New Horizons.

The last image of Pluto taken by New Horizons.

NASA

Right now, New Horizons is taking even more detailed pictures of Pluto. If all goes according to plan, we'll soon be able to examine details on its surface.


Watch this minutelong video for a quick overview of the New Horizons mission.

NPR's Skunk Bear YouTube

Follow @nprskunkbear for more Pluto updates.

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