It's an exciting time for space exploration! On July 14, NASA's New Horizons space probe will shoot past Pluto at 30,800 mph and send back high-resolution images of the surface for the first time, along with images of Pluto's moons: Charon, Hydra, Nix, Styx and Kerberos.
New Horizons took off way back in 2005 and carries, for the time, the latest in space imaging technology called the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager, along with six other scientific instruments. However, NASA also loaded it down with some non mission-critical items, including a CD containing 430,000 names.
Back in 2005, NASA opened a site that let you submit your name to go on the CD. If you submitted your name, you can go online and get a certificate that looks like mine:
Yep, that's my name on there, and I couldn't be happier it's going "where no one has gone before."
If you think you might have signed up and forgotten, you can go to this page to see if your name is included. Go ahead and check, you never know!
Here are some photos taken July 8 from 3.7 million miles away.
Charon and Pluto
Pluto (in black and white)
Keep your eyes peeled for spectacular new Pluto images over the next few weeks, or check out NASA's New Horizons page.