OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – Stargazers packed the planetarium at Oakland’s Chabot Space and Science Center Tuesday to get the good news live: confirmation that a voyage to the outer limits of our solar system worked.
In a voyage a decade in the making, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft swept by Pluto Tuesday. As cheers went up inside NASA’s Mission Control, hundreds of people partying at Chabot were cheering as well.
“It’s really exciting we got all the way out to Pluto,” said Rosemary Kennett of Oakland.
From 3 billion miles away, just shy of the dwarf planet, the spacecraft phoned home.
Scientists at Chabot explained the probe, which is the size of a baby grand piano, has been hurtling through space at about a million miles a day, which is approximately seven miles a second.
Already, scientists discovered something about Pluto they didn’t know before. Pluto is about 1,470 miles across, bigger than they thought. Astronomer Gerald McKeegan of Chabot said there will be more data uncovering the mysteries of Pluto.
“We’re going to learn about the mass of Pluto, the atmosphere of Pluto, the surface composition and texture,” McKeegan said.