It has been just over half a year since humanity’s first visit to Pluto. In the first few days we sat on edge waiting for the images that would finally show us this mysterious world. Since then, the New Horizons spacecraft has spent many long months sending back the information that would give answers or clues to the questions both astronomers and public alike had. The data returned has revealed nothing short of several breathtaking surprises.
Launched over ten years ago, the New Horizons mission was tasked with visiting the Pluto system, located at the boundary of our Solar System where Kuiper Belt objects are found. The journey took over 9 ½ years and spanned a distance of nearly 3.6 billion miles. With less than an hour during closest approach, New Horizons used a full suite of advanced instruments to capture stunning images and conduct extensive science investigations.
Already the information we are learning about Pluto and its system of moons has changed our view of what is possible in planetary body formation. Mountains and volcanoes made of ice, hills of water-ice floating on a sea of frozen nitrogen, even a moon that shows evidence of having tried to break out of its own crust in the past. These are some of the amazing discoveries that await our own journey to Pluto during Night Vision.
Night Vision: Pluto is presented by Thomas Quayle on Thursday evening, March 24th and Saturday evening, March 26th, in the Hansen Dome Theatre at 6:45pm. Thomas will expand on his previous Pluto presentation given in July during the historic New Horizons flyby of Pluto.
Tickets available online or at the Clark Planetarium ticket desk. Free for members and $2 for everyone else.
Please note that a special edition of Night Vision also plays on Friday evening, March 25th, featuring guest lecturer, Dr. Jason Steffen, exoplanets expert, on the topic, “Worlds Without End: The Amazing Variety of Alien Planets.”