Close Encounter with Distant Pluto Getting Under Way

photo courtesy of cnn.com.

photo courtesy of cnn.com.

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is closing in on Pluto and its five moons. Soon we will see what no one has ever seen before: crisp, clear pictures of the tiny, icy world, reported cnn.com.

“The pictures are what we’re all waiting for,” Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator, told CNN.

Up until now, the best images of Pluto have been a few pixels shot by the Hubble Space Telescope. The images, released in 2010, took four years and 20 computers operating continuously and simultaneously to produce, according to Marc Buie of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, stated newsok.com.

That is  not a very glamorous description, but NASA said the images confirmed Pluto is a “dynamic world that undergoes dramatic atmospheric changes, not simply a ball of ice and rock.”, reported cnn.com.

New Horizons was launched on January 19, 2006. It will arrive at Pluto on July 14, 2015. The probe is 27 inches (0.7 meters) tall, 83 inches (2.1 meters) long and 108 inches (2.7 meters) wide. It weighed 1,054 pounds (478 kilograms) at launch, stated kugn.com.