To Pluto, With Love

By Brad Kimberly, Defense Media Activity

Pluto

This image from the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) aboard NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, was taken on July 13, 2015 when the spacecraft was 476,000 miles (768,000 kilometers) from Pluto’s surface. 
Credits: NASA/APL/SwRI

Dear Pluto:

We received your picture this morning, and we just want to let you know something.

We love you, too!

The New Horizons spacecraft is amazing, isn’t it? Given our long-distance relationship (about 3 billion miles or so), it’s nice that we have the technology to keep our love connection going. Chuck Woolery would be proud.

Back in September, we told our Armed with Science readers about New Horizons reaching Neptune. We mean, if you’re even into Neptune at all, we suppose that might have been important to you. However, to us, we knew that something better was coming along and that we would soon see the clearest pictures ever made of you since your discovery back in 1930.

Do you even have the Internet in space? We know your connection through New Horizons is only limited to 1 kilobit per second, but you really should check out the photos.

So, listen, we don’t want to alarm you, but back in 2006, astronomers started calling you a “dwarf planet.” We hope you’re not offended by this designation. Apparently it has something to do with not meeting all the International Astronomical Union’s criteria of being a “planet.” The rules are pretty silly, amirite?

THE IAU’S SILLY PLANET RULES

1) Orbits the Sun.
2) Has enough mass to assume a nearly round shape, and
3) Has “cleared the neighborhood” around its orbit.

You see, it’s the third one that’s the issue. It matters to scientists, and that’s why you have that minor-planet designation. But you’re still MAJOR in our book.

So, we love you. Keep in touch with us as long as you can. Let us know when we can come visit, ok?

With Love,
Armed with Science

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