Scientists have unveiled the best photos of Pluto and its moons that humanity is likely to see for at least a generation. These images were taken Tuesday by NASA's New Horizons space probe as it hurtled past Pluto at more than 30,000 miles per hour.

Since its discovery in 1930, Pluto has revealed itself to be an oddball world. It's smaller than our own moon, and it orbits at an angle relative to the plane of the solar system. Because of its size and distance, even the Hubble Space Telescope could only make it out as a brown smudge, billions of miles away.

New images of Pluto have arrived from a NASA space probe, and they're already allowing scientists to update what we know about the dwarf planet — such as its size. NASA's New Horizons probe has traveled more than 3 billion miles to send photos and data about Pluto back to Earth.

With recent news headlines proclaiming that dozens of people have been selected as finalists for a Martian astronaut corps, it might seem like a trip to this alien world might finally be close at hand.

But let's have a little reality check. What are the chances that we really will see people on the Red Planet in the next couple of decades?

NASA is about to launch a new spaceship into orbit, and Mallory Loe has never heard of it.

"I mean, technically, NASA doesn't have another spaceship, do they?" she asks incredulously during a visit to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

She's hardly the only one who doesn't know about this new spacecraft. In fact, none of a half-dozen tourists NPR interviewed in the museum's lobby was aware of the Orion spaceship.

As you may be aware, there's a hot new space movie now in theaters — Interstellar. Here's the premise: It's just a little bit in the future, conditions have become pretty horrible on Earth and some astronauts head out in search of a new planet for humans to inhabit.


On November 12, scientists plan to send a lander form the Rosetta probe to the surface of the comet. Since early August, the Rosetta Orbiter Sensor for Ion and Neutral Analysis (ROSINA) has been 'sniffing the fumes' of 67P/C-G with its two mass spectrometers and Science Friday covered the theoretically noxious odors last week. Madisonville Community College physics and astronomy assistant professor, Dr. Aseem Talukdar, is following the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission. Kate Lochte speaks with Dr. Talukdar on Sounds Good about the scientific endeavor.

West Kentucky Community and Technical College's Challenger Learning Center hosts a 45-minute presentation in a STARLAB portable planetarium. It's a program designed to teach kids about constellations and how the night sky changes. On Sounds Good, Kate Lochte speaks with Dr. Victor Taveras, a member of the physics faculty about the event and a real-life viewing following the STARLAB experience, weather depending.

Union City's Discovery Park of America hosts two shuttle astronauts during its Space and Flight Month celebration through January. We're honored to bring you a conversation with the married astronaut couple Captain Robert "Hoot" Gibson and Dr. Rhea Seddon who are loaning their suits to Discovery Park of America for the celebration, in a special dinner event next Friday (January 24).

Good Read: Packing for Mars by Mary Roach

Jun 26, 2012

Product Description: