Palm Beach News

Pluto Flyby: FAU Hosting Free Events for Historic NASA Probe


In case you weren’t aware, a spacecraft from Earth reached the planet Pluto for the first time in history Tuesday morning. And Florida Atlantic University is all geared up to host free public events on the whole shebang. At 7:49 this morning, a NASA spacecraft known as New Horizons passed by the distant planet (it's continuing on to explore the Kuiper Belt of rock and asteroids). Today and this evening, it will be beaming over measurements of the distant world and giving us a better glimpse of one of the most mysterious and captivating bodies in our solar system. 

New Horizons has taken nine years to reach Pluto. Over the years, Pluto has been demoted from being a planet, to being a dwarf planet.
We’re about to learn more, as New Horizons hurtles past Pluto and its five moons at 30,800 mph. At its closest point, it came within 7,600 miles of the space body.

The spacecraft has a mere window of hours to collect as much data as possible and beam it back to NASA. The tricky part will be waiting for the spacecraft to signal back that it has done its job. 


Since radio signals take four and a half hours to reach Earth, New Horizons’ juiciest data won't be coming in until later today. FAU is holding Plutopalooza throughout the course of two days with a series of workshops at their Astronomical Observatory, Geoscienses Laboratory and Wimberly Library.

FAU will host Plutopalooza starting on Tuesday from noon to 9:00 p.m. and then again on Wednesday from noon to 6:00 p.m.

There will be a "Pluto" station where New Horizons’ progress will be monitored at FAU's Observatory.  The "Charon" station will have discussions on the Pluto and its moon, Charon’s, differences, including density and their shared atmospheres. The "Nix" station will discuss the geophysics of planet definitions, orbital transfers, measuring planetary masses, and Pluto's density and composition, while “Jupiter” station will have displays about the NASA mission.

As New Horizons approached Pluto, science have already learned that the planet is redder, and more ice-like, than they had believed. As NASA awaits more results, they've already released a sneak-peak shot of Pluto taken by New Horizons on Instagram. 

SNEAK PEEK of 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 - 7:49 a.m. EDT today. This same image will be released and discussed at 8 a.m. EDT today. Watch our briefing live on NASA Television at: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv The high res pic will be posted on the web at: http://www.nasa.gov. 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. Image Credit: NASA #nasa #pluto #plutoflyby #newhorizons #solarsystem #nasabeyond #science

A photo posted by NASA (@nasa) on



If you're planning to attend the Plutopalooza on either day, FAU is asking you use the parking garage near the football stadium. You'll beed a parking pass, which can be obtained at the Information booth at the school's entrance locoed on West University Drive off of Glades Road. You can also get a pass by sending an email to [email protected] There is also parking available at lots 4 or 7.

For more information on the events, you can go here.
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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph