OT: NASA Spacecraft Flies Past Pluto For First Time Ever

The Off Topic area of MontrealRacing is actually the site’s most visited forum section. Every so often we like to share a popular post from Off Topic and the news from NASA made this an easy choice today.

This morning, the greatest astronomical event of the 21st century took place when the New Horizons spacecraft did a flyby of the Dwarf Planet Pluto. Until now, we had no idea what Pluto really looked like because it was too far and too small even for our biggest telescopes. I remember in 1989 when Voyager flew past Neptune for the first time and it was a pretty big deal. Pluto is the last of the original nine planets that humans hadn’t gotten a closeup look at so for astronomy buffs today is pretty special.

This Wikipedia entry explains why Pluto is no longer considered a full planet:

Pluto was discovered in 1930 and was originally considered the ninth planet from the Sun. After 1992, its status as a planet fell into question following the discovery of the Kuiper belt, a ring of objects beyond Neptune that includes Pluto among other large bodies. In 2005, Eris, which is 27% more massive than Pluto, was discovered, which led the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to define the term “planet” formally for the first time the following year.[15] This definition excluded Pluto and reclassified it as a member of the new “dwarf planet” category (and specifically as a plutoid).Some astronomers believe Pluto should still be considered a planet.

90 days ago humanity’s best photo of Pluto was this:

Here is the latest image released this morning, shorty after the spacecraft flew by at 7:49AM EST:

And the best pic of Charon (Pluto’s largest moon) so far:

Discussion: http://www.montrealracing.com/forums/showthread.php?888579-NASA-Spacecraft-Flies-Past-Pluto-For-First-Time-Ever