NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is conducting humanity's first close observation of the planet Pluto. Scientists are mesmerized by the first high-resolution images of this mysterious world at the border of our solar system.
Pluto is ancient, but our knowledge of it is not. It was in only 1930 that Clyde Tombaugh, a 23-year old astronomer from Kansas, found it hidden away in the distance (though this is disputed). Tombaugh went on to have a long and fruitful career in astronomy before dying in 1997 at the age of 90.
When NASA launched New Horizons in 2006, the probe carried a portion of Tombaugh's ashes. So in a way, he's now traveled all the way to the world that he discovered. NBC News talked to his family:
"My dad would have been thrilled," Alden Tombaugh, 70, told NBC News. "He always said that if he had the chance, he wanted to visit the planets. And a little part of him is going to get to do that."
-via American Digest