He noted that New Horizons is the first “post-human” planetary encounter – it used to be that only the privileged few in mission control could celebrate; now anyone with internet access can virtually follow along. “For about 20 years of that orbit, it’s closer to the sun than Neptune”, said Shropshire. The company has utilized the CPU for transmitting data back to planet Earth, control the thrusters, as well as track the sensors of the probe. “While this historic event is still unfolding – with the most exciting Pluto science still ahead of us – a new era of solar system exploration is just beginning”.

According to The Associated Press, the rendezvous was “the last stop on NASA’s grand tour of planets over the past half-century”, the culmination of an “epic journey that began 9½ years ago, back when Pluto was still considered a full-fledged planet“.

In 2006, when New Horizons left Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, Pluto was still a planet.

“We are excited to finally lay this question to rest”, said mission scientist Bill McKinnon in a statement.

After ten years of hurtling through space, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft approached Pluto and its moons this week, sending home stunning photographs of the icy dwarf planet.

So far, only a fraction of the thousands of pictures and science measurements collected by New Horizons during its traverse through the Pluto system have been relayed.

The probe, which is roughly the size of a piano, carries Clyde Tombaugh’s ashes; he was the astronomer who discovered Pluto in 1930.

“We’ve tended to think of these midsize worlds…as probably candy-coated lumps of ice”, Spencer said.

NASA revealed one photo of icy mountains at Pluto surface which are ranging 11,000 feet and as per United States space agency those are high as the Rocky Mountains. “This means this is a very young surface, because Pluto has been bombarded by other objects in the Kuiper Belt and [was] bound to have had craters happen”. We were celebrating based on estimated timing from NASA and a virtual look at New Horizons and Pluto via OpenSpace, not a live feed of information. That is found about 1,600 kilometres across and just above Pluto’s equator.

“Pluto’s kind of the belle of the ball”, said Stern.

Both of Tombaugh’s two children, now in their 70s, were at the New Horizons mission operations center in Maryland for Tuesday’s celebration.

“It’s even got a heart, unlike you”.