The Year of Pluto

2015, Science  -   15 Comments
Storyline

This year marks a landmark event in the history of space exploration. After a nine year journey across the deepest stretches of the galaxy, a specially designed rocket will glide past the distant planet of Pluto on 14 July 2015. The new documentary The Year of Pluto outlines the decades of preparation that have transpired to bring NASA to this milestone, and explores the possibilities of discovery that may lie in wait.

"For the first time ever, we will be able to fly by a brand new object," testifies James Green, Director of Planetary Science for NASA, "and understand what the outer parts of the solar system are all about." Our quest for understanding enjoyed its initial breakthrough in 1930 when the planet was first discovered by astronomer Clyde W. Tombaugh. Knowledge of the region was further amplified in subsequent years as scientists uncovered the Kuiper belt - a wide swath of small formations and moons which surround Pluto.

What do Pluto and its moons look like, and what revelations await through a collection of data around their orbit? The hugely ambitious mission to find those answers began in January of 2006 as NASA mounted the New Horizons project. Originated by a small team of eager and endlessly curious researchers, New Horizons hopes to write the defining chapter on a region of space which has gone largely unconsidered.

"The thing that drew me to it the most was the fact that we knew so little," says Marc Buie, a lead co-investigator of the project and one of the film's many learned interview subjects. "Here's the frontier." The project has endured its fair share of challenges, including the construction of a new and revolutionary spacecraft and a careful consideration of the data to be collected in this initial groundbreaking voyage.

This moment in space exploration history has been hard fought, and is made possible by the tireless efforts of thousands of intensely inventive scientists, researchers, scholars and manufacturers. The Year of Pluto pays tribute to their sacrifice and determination while celebrating the unquenchable spirit that drives our search for the unknown.

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15 Comments / User Reviews

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  1. Urban dweller

    Not ONE black person! An indicator of the systematic racism that continues in this country. Even if a student somehow managed to break through the system he/she would have to battle the mental state of a people bound by their profound belief that they are somehow superior. When they simply had seen and unseen, perhaps known and unknown advantages...again and again and again until they assumed their place in the world as superior. Others in the meantime dealt with meanness, segregation, assumptions of lack and inferiority again, and again and again. Sad state of affairs.

  2. Spaceman

    Check out on YouTube: ISS space station hoax watch with open mind

  3. Scartera

    great job all involved.

  4. Phred Blunt

    More bovine excrement from NASA. They can't even get a rocket off the ground beyond the atmosphere, let alone go anywhere in 'space'.

    I'd like some verifiable evidence, not fake pictures or data that can't be verified of directly observed.

    Where are the stars in all their supposed 'space' pictures?

    Time to put the comic books away and observe directly, the rest is heresay.

    1. ashmonster

      LOL How do you feel now?

    2. Fabien L

      What?!?! NASA has a website where you can spot the space station as the 3rd brightest object in space. Several times a week, Mission Control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, determines sighting opportunities for over 6,700 locations worldwide. They can't get a rocket beyond the atmosphere but there is a space station that anyone can observe, complete nonsense.

    3. WTC7

      Yes, indeed. They can observe the space station as the third brightest object in space but they need Russians to send humans there. I agree, it's complete nonsense.

    4. DigiWongaDude

      If only you had spoken out earlier - we could've crowd sourced some additional budget to directly observe you strapped to New Horizons while you did your flyby Pluto.

    5. WTC7

      As much as I disagree with the comment you responded to, it made me think about what happened to the technology that brought us to the Moon? USA now relies solely on the outdated Russian Soyuz technology to get to the ISS?

    6. DigiWongaDude

      In a word... politics. Politics is what happened to the technology. In much the same way that politics brought it about too. Remember the shuttle disaster, concerning the 'O' rings? Richard Feynman was called in to help with the official inquiry. That was made into a film starring William Hurt as Richard Feynman. Very good indeed, and more - it reveals the ideas that propped up the US Space program for so long (as an answer to your question). Perhaps you've already seen it? "The Challenger Disaster" 2013 TV Movie.

    7. WTC7

      "Stars are also never seen in Space Shuttle, Mir, International Space Station Earth observation photos, or even sporting events that take place at night. The light from the Sun in outer space in the Earth-Moon system is at least as bright as the sunlight that reaches the Earth's surface on a clear day at noon, so cameras used for imaging subjects illuminated by sunlight are set for a daylight exposure. The dim light of the stars simply do not provide enough exposure to record visible images." (Wikipedia)

      The only time the stars were recorded to have been seen in a space flight was in 1961 when Yuri Gagarin said that "the stars seen from his Vostok spacecraft were "bright and clear cut."

  5. dmxi

    it will be interesting when it passes past pluto,deep into the oorth cloud where they suspect at least one unknown earth sized planet,causing a rift amidst all the asteroid debris.the infamous planet x,if you will.

  6. Fabien L

    Don't hold your breath, it will fly by on the 14th but it will take many days if not weeks to get a good portion of the data back to earth. An interesting article about the difficulties of communicating with New Horizons is titled "Talking to Pluto is hard! Why it takes so long to get data back from New Horizons".

    1. thinkingtomato

      apparently retrieving that info, pictures, only took a couple of hours....wasnt it great to see those first few pics coming out later on in the day?

    2. Fabien L

      Pictures were nice but there is a big backlog of data to beam home. It will be much more interesting for scientists in the weeks and months to come.