Pluto and New Horizons

I have been watching the news about the New Horizons probe with anticipation.

pluto courtesy NASAThe company I used to work for, e2v, made the imaging sensors that are sending back the most detailed pictures ever seenĀ of Pluto. They left planet Earth nearly 10 years ago.

It is likely that New Horizons will take about 4 years before reaching the next object in the Kuiper belt. After this it will head onwards into space, where it may take thousands of years before it reaches anything of significance.

This brings to a completion the initial ‘close’ exploration of our solar system. It also makes you appreciate how small we are and how little we know. Our solar system is 1 sun in perhaps about 4-500 billion in the Milky Way galaxy. Then there are something like 170 billion galaxies in the known Universe. That’s a septillion stars like ours in the Universe as we know it. It doesn’t begin to consider what might be out there in the Universe where the light still hasn’t reached us.

It is all good food for thought for my Space Imaging talks.