Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

The Path to Pluto

Alan Stern was still a grad student at the University of Colorado back in 1989 when NASA’s Voyager 2 space probe completed its grand tour of the outer solar system. Its sister ship Voyager 1 had gone before it, returning the first close-up images and scientific measurements of the giant planets Jupiter and Saturn, along with their moons. But then it veered off, and Voyager 2 went on alone to explore Uranus as well, and then Neptune, at the outer edge of the solar system. And with that remarkable feat, the first reconnaissance of our sun’s planetary family was complete. Except, of course, for Pluto. At the time, there simply wasn’t enough fuel to get Voyager 2 there. Surely NASA’s …

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