NASA’s New Horizons — which launched back in January 2006 with the same CPU as the one used in the original Sony PlayStation — started sending high resolution color photos of Pluto back to Earth last Monday night. You’ve probably seen this now-famous photo several times this week, perhaps when Stephen Colbert and Neil deGrasse Tyson were arguing about planet status:
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Gorgeous Pluto! The dwarf planet has sent a love note back to Earth via our New Horizons spacecraft, which has traveled more than 9 years and 3+ billion miles. This is the last and most detailed image of Pluto sent to Earth before the moment of closest approach, which was at 7:49 a.m. EDT Tuesday – about 7,750 miles above the surface — roughly the same distance from New York to Mumbai, India – making it the first-ever space mission to explore a world so far from Earth. This stunning image of the dwarf planet was captured from New Horizons at about 4 p.m. EDT on July 13, about 16 hours before the moment of closest approach. The spacecraft was 476,000 miles (766,000 kilometers) from the surface. Images from closest approach are expected to be released on Wednesday, July 15. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI #nasa #pluto #plutoflyby #newhorizons#solarsystem #nasabeyond #science
That pink color is from tholins, created when the Sun’s ultraviolet light hits the abundant methane molecules present on Pluto. Assume we made a fart joke there and we’ll move on to the memes. Speaking of which, the internet was quick to use New Horizons as impetus to create photoshops, jokes, cheeky topographical maps and NSFW poems.
Truly, this is a momentous human achievement, so BRING ON THE DICK JOKES.
And finally, Conan shows us what’s really going on with that “heart” on Pluto.
Told you there’d be dick jokes.