World of love for Pluto during New Horizons flybyNASA's New Horizons craft scans the secrets of Pluto and beyond after a nine-year journey. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson calls the NASA mission "a triumph of engineering and the laws of physics.
Pluto is unexplored no more. I'm Bridget Carey. This is your CNet Update. [MUSIC] After 9 years of soaring through 3 billion miles of our solar system, NASA's New Horizons space craft zipped by Pluto Tuesday morning. Photos and scanning the atmosphere becoming the first space craft to visit the distant dwarf planet and its moon, Charon. History was made at 7:49 AM Eastern time when New Horizons was closest to Pluto. Just about 8,000 miles from the surface, celebrations were had at mission control at the John's Hopkins' Applied Physics lab in Maryland. Engineers cheered, but really, no-one would know if the craft made it until it re-establishes contact later Tuesday night. It flew by Pluto at a super fast 31,000 miles per hour, which is about 8 miles a second. But getting data back to Earth is a slow process with information traveling slower than dial-up Internet speeds, and it'll keep sending back data for the next 16 months. We may not see more close up images until another day or so. This color photo is from Monday, right before the flyby. The images are a 1,000 times better than what was captured with the Hubble Telescope. And we're all feeling the love of Pluto with this latest image that reveals the heart shaped feature on the planet. Some scientists believe it could be fresh deposits of frost. Others have referred to it as an eagle. And some have visions of a different sort of Pluto. Over in New York City, the American Museum of Natural History hosted a real time visualization of what New Horizons was doing, with commentary from mission control. Astrophysicist, Neal deGrasse Tyson, director of the museum's Hayden planetarium Was one of the hosts of the event. And as he explained in an interview after the event, this mission was no easy task and compared it to threading a needle from New York to Los Angeles. Yeah, this is a triumph of engineering and the laws of physics. Tyson was among those leading the change to downgrade Pluto from a planet to dwarf status in 2006, because it didn't behave the same as other planetary bodies. But what's discovered on this mission won't change its status. No matter what it finds, it's still an icy body orbiting in the Kiper belt, and so our exhibatory cut into metal need not change at all. We'd like to put some updated images for sure, but in terms of how we are treating it The nomenclature is not what led our efforts here. This isn't the end of it's $700 million mission. New Horizons continues to travel further into space, into a region known as the Kuiper Belt. And along with the Pluto data, it can provide us with clues to how the solar system was formed. And so far, we've already learned that Pluto is a little bit bigger then we, Expected. That's it for this tech news update there's always more to explore at cnet.com. From our studios in New York, I'm Bridget Carey. [NOISE]