Planet or not, you're going to be amazed at this awesome photo of Pluto and some of the fascinating details behind it. NASA's New Horizons probe has traveled 3 billion miles in 9 years, and the photos it's now beaming back to Earth are nothing short of stunning.
The spacecraft has made it closer to the debatable "planet" than any other in history, coming within 7,800 miles from Pluto's surface, snapping high-res photos in the process.
The probe has discovered a heart and even an image of Pluto the lovable dog from Disney. We have the image near the bottom of this article. Be sure to show the kids!
The first photo below shows "Pluto's Big Heart" and was taken July 13, 2015, about 476,000 miles from its surface.
The second one was taken today, July 14, 2015, from the same distance.
Click either photo to get a closer look. But after a look at the photos, keep reading for fun facts and an image of the Disney character found on Pluto to complete your mission!
The New Horizons probe is set to get even closer to Pluto today, so be sure to stay tuned to NASA's New Horizons page, the New Horizons photo gallery, or NASA's Twitter feed for the latest as it breaks.
In the meantime, enjoy these fun facts about Pluto and the New Horizons' mission:
- Clyde W. Tombaugh discovered Pluto in 1930. His ashes are aboard New Horizons craft with the inscription, "Interned herein are remains of American Clyde W. Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto and the solar system's 'third zone.' Adelle and Muron's boy, Patricia's husband, Annette and Alden's father, astronomer, teacher, punster, and friend: Clyde W. Tombaugh (1906-1997)."
- Also on board is a CD-ROM with names of 434,738 people who signed up to be a part of the launch; Maryland and Florida state quarters to represent where New Horizons was built and launched from, respectively; a stamp from 1991 that reads: "Pluto: Not Yet Explored"; and a small piece of SpaceShip One.
- Everyone's favorite Disney dog, Pluto, is an inhabitant of Pluto? One photo, taken on July 11 and taken from 1 million miles away, has one NASA scientist speculating that the cartoon's face can be seen on Pluto's surface, as illustrated by the GIF below: