back to article NASA probe sent to faraway planet finds DWARF world instead: Pics

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has taken the first true color photograph of Pluto and its largest moon Charon – all while speeding toward the dwarf planet at four kilometres a second (8,950 miles per hour). The pictures were taken from around 115 million kilometres (71 million miles) away and so are somewhat blobby to say the …

  1. Crazy Operations Guy

    Clyde Tombaugh

    To think that he was able to go from a world where flight was in its infancy to seeing Voyager zoom past Pluto within his lifetime, and now he gets one last look...

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge


      Science is marvelous, when properly employed, ain't it ?

    2. Joe Gurman

      Re: Clyde Tombaugh

      Mr. Tombaugh died in 1997, so if he's looking back, it's from very far away indeed.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Clyde Tombaugh

        True, but a bit of ashes are on board. I salute him on his journey.

    3. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Clyde Tombaugh

      To think that he was able to go from a world where flight was in its infancy to seeing Voyager zoom past Pluto within his lifetime

      On the other hand, we were able to go from a world where man has been walking on the Moon to... uhhh... oh, never mind.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Clyde Tombaugh

        Maybe his remains will drift long enough to out live us all.

        1. Anonymous Blowhard

          Re: Clyde Tombaugh

          "Maybe his remains will drift long enough to out live us all."

          As long as the remains, presumably still in the probe, drift far enough from the solar system without hitting anything, they will outlive the Earth; which will be destroyed when the Sun expands into a red giant:

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Clyde Tombaugh

            "they will outlive the Earth"

            On the other hand, "live" might be a bit of a strong description for an ounce of ashes.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Clyde Tombaugh

            Yes, Mr Obvious.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have to say I'm quite excited about seeing proper pictures of Pluto.

    However, to call these the first colour photos of Pluto, while being technically correct, is rather overstating the importance of this very blurry blob with a slight tint.

    Let's wait for some decent piccies before getting too excited, shall we?

    Nice test for the camera though.

    1. stizzleswick

      "to call these the first colour photos of Pluto,"

      They are not. They are, however, as the subtitle correctly stated, the first truecolour images ever taken: all colour pictures taken before were filter composites, not true-colour. Which makes this a first, though not necessarily a lets-dance-in-the-streets level one.

      1. David Nash Silver badge

        Re: "to call these the first colour photos of Pluto,"

        Filter composites?

        How are these not also filter composites? Even if the camera takes one-shot-colour, it does so by using fiters over the sensor and generating coloured pixels from groups of colour-filtered monochrome pixels.

        1. Simon Harris Silver badge

          Re: "to call these the first colour photos of Pluto,"

          Just about everything you might possibly want to know about Ralph is here:

          or just to the index for a lot of stuff about the whole mission (apologies to any employers if no work gets done this afternoon!).

        2. stizzleswick

          @ David Nash

          The difference is that these pictures were taken in regular visible-wavelength Red, Green and Blue, not IR and UV or other combinations, as had been all colour images of Pluto before.

          One can overdo the nit-picking, you know...

  3. Fink-Nottle

    Computer, ENHANCE!

    1. Big John Silver badge

      Okay, but with 2006 tech, the program will take roughly three months to complete...

    2. Anne-Lise Pasch

      Long Range Telephotos

      If this was CSI Miami, we'd be able to zoom in and take photos of the newspaper articles the alien's are reading. *

      * presumably through some form of alien igloo window

  4. Triple-J


    Organizers in Las Cruces, NM are trying to have a big celebration when New Horizons finally arrives at Pluto. In the astronomy department here at NMSU, we still use one of Clyde's telescopes for public events. I got to know Clyde before he died and I have never met anyone so fond of crow puns. I thought *I* was bad when it came to puns but he out-did me by a long shot.

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Re: Plutopalooza

      Certainly worthy cause for a party. My son was really chuffed to hear the flyby is on his birthday. I will certainly raise a glass to both occasions

    2. cortland

      Re: Plutopalooza

      So he was no caw-ward, eh?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "As the probe flies by, the Ralph telescope should be able to pick up ground features on Pluto.."

    Well, if one of those features is a representation of the classic 'cock and balls' made out of carefully arranged rocks by the local residents, I for one, wont be in the slightest bit surprised.

    1. hplasm Silver badge

      "...ground features on Pluto.."

      "Your advert could be here!"

  6. Winkypop Silver badge

    Science +1

    Scientists +1

    1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

      Re: Science +1

      Engineers + 1


      1. Myself-NZ

        Re: Science +1

        Engineers use science so the original science +1 still stands

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. eJ2095

      Crap beat me to it

  8. GreggS

    "and the craft should be able to send data back for up to a decade to come"

    Pah, Voyager looks down on the young upstarts lack of stamina.

    1. Winkypop Silver badge

      They don't build 'em like they used to.

  9. Simon Harris Silver badge


    That's still about 3 times faster than the tape interface on my first computer... and then the signal only had to travel down 30cm of shielded cable instead of across 7.5billion km of space.

  10. Measurer

    Lets hope that none of Clyde's ashes find their way into the dust analyser by accident, eh....

    1. Wombling_Free


      HUMAN DNA FOUND ON PLUTO !!!!one!!!!eleventy!!!!

      1. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: Headlines

        I hope no DNA survived the cremation or it will be the Sycorax all over again!

  11. PhilipN Silver badge

    Hats off ....

    ... a million times to all those involved in this project. Bloody brilliant!

    P.S. Does anyone know how to pronounce "Tombaugh". I mean, how would HE have pronounced it?

  12. Alistair Silver badge

    Lets see....

    Voyager 2 - life cycle was what ... 8 years? going on 40 some now if my memory serves.

    Spirit & Opportunity - 90 days --

    Somehow I see Spock meeting New Horizons somewhere out around Antares....

    Personally - I can't wait for better piccies of Pluto -- I'm kinda curious to see if there is a single space suit down there with one hand raised to the sun.....

    (grumpy bugger trying to find a cache file in ambari that doesn't seem to want to let go of an old version stamp)

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Lets see....

      "I'm kinda curious to see if there is a single space suit down there with one hand raised to the sun....."

      Which one is that from? My memory is telling me Kim Stanley Robinsons Icehenge, but not with any significant level of confidence.

      1. BoldMan

        Re: Lets see....

        Larry Niven?

        1. MajorTom

          Re: Lets see....

          Sounds like Larry Niven's "The Coldest Place" IIRC.

  13. hammarbtyp Silver badge

    Can't wait

    It is fantastic to see these images come in and a a great testament to engineers who put this together. As someone who throws things around when his code takes more than 10 seconds to compile,. I can't imagine having to wait 9 years to see if the system would work as planned.

    Is it just me, but can you see a lighter patch to the bottom left of Pluto? Can't wait for the close-ups

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Can't wait

      I can also see three other 'blobs' off to the left. Is it possible that these are Pluto's other satellites* (there are apparently four others, and four dark blue areas in this picture), rather than just image artefacts?

      *Although the term 'satellite' here is a little iffy, because the centre of mass of the Pluto-Charon system is outside the radius of Pluto, so the both orbit a point in-between.

  14. Wombling_Free
    Black Helicopters

    Here's hoping

    That the fancy telescope isn't based on a model used on spy satelites, or we'll have the Hubble "Ooops we made it wrong, derp" all over again.

    Can't have those pesky astronomers being able to work out the imaging power of our spy satellites now, can we?

  15. old_IT_guy

    "The craft is the fastest human-made object to leave Earth's orbit"

    Voyager 2 is currently moving at around 16 Km/s, faster than New Horizon.

    1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

      "faster than New Horizon"

      well... it WAS until Voyager 6 fell into that spatial anomaly and emerged on the other side of the galaxy.

      At least, that's according to the Spock-unit.

  16. RealBigAl

    This entire topic

    is just goofy

  17. Alistair Silver badge



    KSR does have a close match, but the raised hand here is the key.

    @old_it_guy --

    I don't have good numbers on V2's speed right now but I'm inclined to agree with you on that -- I'm however quite interested in the real numbers for NH's propulsion systems.

    I'm reading Mars Rover Curiosity: An Inside Account from Curiosity's Chief Engineer, (my 9 year old bought it for my birthday..... ) -- Its nice to realize that even in my current position I have it easy.......

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