New Horizons

Talk about timing. Following a link from Bad Astronomy, I tuned into NASA TV just in time to see the New Horizons probe launch from Cape Canaveral at 14:00 EST this afternoon. New Horizons will be the first probe sent to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. When the probe arrives in July 2015, it will hopefully answer a lot of questions about a part of the solar system we know very little about; Pluto is the only planet that hasn’t been studied by a probe already, and it probably isn’t anything like the inner rocky planets like Earth or Mars nor the gas giants like Jupiter or Saturn.

And yes, technically speaking, it’s dubious whether Pluto would be considered a planet if it were discovered today, but as far as I’m concerned it’s been grandfathered in to “planet” status even if the term becomes more rigidly defined, so there.

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