It’s really one of the most remarkable moments in human history – and an opportunity for a bunch of silly internet jokes. Earth just got its first up-close look at Pluto, the icy dwarf planet on the farthest reaches of our solar system.
The New Horizon space probe, which was launched in 2006, passed close by Pluto today – meaning within 7,750,000 miles, or roughly the distance between New York City and Mumbai. A while earlier, it snapped this instantly-iconic image showing a pale region that looks like a heart (or maybe Pluto the Dog).
Aw, Pluto loves us, guys. Bet you feel like a jerk for stripping it of planet status now.
New Horizon has travelled over three billion miles from Earth, so it took four hours to beam the images back. Now that we have high-resolution images of the dwarf planet, we’ll be able to answer a few questions about our distant neighbor that we’ve only known about for 85 years — for instance, exactly how big it is.