NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is all set to flyby the dwarf planet Pluto today and Google has a special doodle to honour the occasion. Today’s Google Doodle sees the second ‘O’ in Google turned into the Planet Pluto and when you click on the doodle, the New Horizons spacecraft flies past the planet.
According to the official Google Doodle blogpost, the doodle was created by Kevin Laughlin in honour of “New Horizons intrepid voyage to Pluto’s distant corner of the solar system.”
New Horizons spacecraft is travelling at 31,000-mph (50,000-kph) flyby — with closest approach at 7,767 miles (12,500 kilometers) and the journey is expected to open up new ground on the last unexplored planetary territory in our solar system.
The $700 million unmanned spacecraft has seven sophisticated science instruments and cameras that are collecting data daily and sending it back to Earth. “The instruments on New Horizons were all designed to work together to give us a comprehensive picture of the Pluto system,” said Cathy Olkin, deputy project scientist for New Horizons.
They include three optical instruments, two plasma instruments, a dust sensor and a radio science receiver. Together they will help scientists study Pluto’s geology, surface composition, temperature and atmosphere — as well as its five moons.
New Horizons has flown for more than 9 years and covered a distance of 3 billion miles to get to this planet. So far the images sent back by the spacecraft have revealed a near-perfect heart shape, dotted with bright points which may be ice caps, and a mysterious dark shape nicknamed “The Whale.”
We’ll have to wait and see what New Horizons reveals next.
With PTI inputs