back to article NASA probe now closer than ANY OTHER spacecraft to Pluto

A NASA probe came closer to Pluto than any other vessel in the history of space travel on 2 December. The New Horizons mission broke the closest-approach mark to the dwarf planet of 1.58 billion kilometers that was set by NASA's Voyager 1 in January 1986. To reach that milestone, the spacecraft spent 2,143 days, or nearly six …


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  1. EddieD

    Hmm, non-PC

    Shouldn't it be Planet of Restricted Growth?

    1. Penguin herder

      "Restricted" is too negative...

      You're getting close, but Pluto is a "accretion challenged."

  2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Wonder whether they going to also collect telemetry to clear up the intriguing "Pioneer Anomaly"? I would hop to think they didn't forget about that.

  3. Ian Ferguson

    " which time the team expects to see features as small as a football field."

    How many football fields do they expect to find on Pluto?

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Depends on which Sci Fi do you read

      There are at least a couple of very interesting novels about things human expeditions find on pluto. None of them particularly pleasant...

    2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    3. Armando 123

      It will still be hotter than the Colts' offense this year ...

    4. Si 1

      Had that anomaly been detected when when they launched back in 2006?

      It's pretty amazing to think they launched 5 years ago and they've still got another 5 years of waiting before their probe reaches its destination. I hope it all goes well for them, as I would imagine 10 years of waiting only for the probe to go wrong like Phobos-Grunt would be devastating.

  4. TonyHoyle

    What's with all the capitalised words on your titles RECENTLY

    Showing off your tabloid credentials? :p

    btw. The cool kids are following the bbc and ending every sentence 'with quotes'.

  5. Stanislaw

    Sorely tempted as I am...

    ... to make a reference to a "nuclear wessel" (it being powered by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator), New Horizons can carry neither passengers nor cargo, so it's not a vessel. It's a probe.

    Yes, yes. All right. See icon.

    1. eLD

      I think the caps in the titles are just a homage to

    2. James Yeomans 1

      I wonder HOW annoying it would be to TYPE a reply using capital words randomly IN a post. FAIRLY.

    3. Shades


      ...the other BBC annoyance: Bullet Point News

      If I wanted to read news designed for those with short attention spans, whom are unable to digest anything longer than a sentence or two at a time I'd go and read the dumbed-down BBC Sci/Tech section*!

      * or pretty much ANY section of the BBC website.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Repeat quietly after me ...

    Pluto. IS. a. planet. Pluto. IS. a. planet ...

  7. mark adrian bell

    In the immortal words of Mork from Ork,

    Don't go there: It's a Mickey Mouse planet.

    1. Steven Roper

      If Pluto is a planet

      then so are Sedna, Eris, Quaoar, Ixion, Orcus, Varuna and tens of thousands of similar sized Kuitper-belt objects. Care to remember them all for the kids to recite in primary-school science class?

      1. Local Group

        Plutonian Shore

        Let them continue to be full fledged planets. Just don't give them full voting rights.

        And why isn't Pluto's largest moon called Persephone, his wife? Isn't calling it Charon a little gay? Lurking out there in the shadows like they do. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

        1. TeeCee Gold badge

          I guess it's called Charon 'cos it's right out in the Styx.......?

          (Hopefully I have only said this once.)

      2. Laurel Kornfeld

        Yes, they are

        Sedna, Eris, Quaoar, Ixion, Orcus, Varuna, Haumea, Makemake, and Ceres are all planets because they orbit a star and because they are large enough for their own gravity to squeeze them into a round shape--a state known as hydrostatic equilibrium. However, the latter is not true for the majority of Kuiper Belt Objects, which are not similar size to these bodies but much,much smaller, far too small to be shaped by their own gravity. The larger objects that are in hydrostatic equilibrium are small planets. It makes no scientific sense to keep the number of planets small artificially just for the sake of memorization. Memorization is not important for learning. We don't ask kids to memorize the names of all the rivers or mountains on Earth or of all the moons of Jupiter. A better option is to teach kids the different types of planets and the characteristics of each type.

    2. Armando 123

      I bet you spent the 90s forcefully telling people how funny Whoopi Goldberg is.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    there yet? are we there yet? are we...

    I would be slightly surprised if they AIMED AT the surface of Pluto, targeting something the size of a football field, and managed to LAND a probe there.

    Only slightly, you never know.

  9. Caltharian

    Personally i am looking forward to the manned research vessel mission that New Horizons is the precursor to.... Event Horizon

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Event Horizon

      Hmm, to call a vessle that and then to actually get in to it..... you'd have to be totally mad an have balls of steel, of course if you wasnt mad you soon would be and you'd probably have your balls cut off too :)

      Speaking of which, wheres that DVD...

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If I had to spend weeks trapped in a tin can with actors as wooden as Sam Neill, they'd all end up like that too!

  10. Mycho Silver badge

    Be suspicious of any strange fungi appearing at NASA in the near future.

    1. Richard Wharram

      I petitioned NASA...

      ...not to disturb Yuggoth but would they listen ?

  11. Wombling_Free

    size of features?

    'Will be able to see features as small as a football field"

    Is there something NASA isn't telling us? How do they know there are football fields on Pluto?

  12. Laurel Kornfeld

    Dwarf planets are planets too

    Yes, Pluto IS a planet because dwarf planets are planets too. It just happens that New Horizons Principal Investigator Dr. Alan Stern is the person who coined the term "dwarf planet" back in 1991. He intended it to refer to a third class of planets in addition to terrestrials and jovians, small planets massive enough and big enough to be rounded by their own gravity but not large enough to gravitationally dominate their orbits. The controversial demotion of Pluto by four percent of the IAU in 2006 went directly contrary to Stern's intention when he coined this term, was opposed by hundreds of professional astronomers including Stern, and therefore should not be taken as fact but merely as one viewpoint in an ongoing debate.

  13. Amos Tirius Trayngre

    Hooray for the Register!

    I saw not a single instance of "boffin", "chuffed", or similar colloquialisms, in this article. Dare I hope that you've been rehabilitated?

  14. Annihilator


    "The New Horizons probe is expected to pass through the Pluto system in mid-2015, by which time the team expects to see features as small as a football field."

    They're going to look a little silly if it turns out that Pluto doesn't have any football fields on it... Plus presumably all the Plutonian tennis courts will lay undiscovered.

  15. Monty Cantsin

    How do you break bad news to a space probe?

    So, New Horizons was launched in January 2006, when Pluto was still a fully fledged planet, and has been asleep ever since?

    Boy is it going to be pissed off when it wakes up to find that it's only going to a dirty snowball of a dwarf planet now. Lets hope it's not armed with a laser vaporiser like it's en-route to Mars cousin, because it's going to be pretty annoyed with us when it hears about the change in job spec.

  16. cd

    Try again

    A NASA probe came closer to Pluto than any other vessel ORIGINATING FROM PLANET EARTH in the KNOWN history of space travel on 2 December.

    That's better.

  17. Gordon 8


    Are they checking for Grebulons or Vogons?

    Just look for the Gun Turrets

    Mine's the one with The Guide in the pocket......

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