After nine years of travel, the space probe New Horizons finally flew by its target this Tuesday. Jasper Halekas, associate professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Iowa, worked on a similar project, MAVEN, that focused on Mars. He says the New Horizons mission is historic.
"We're exploring a place we've never been before. This is the last planet in the solar system that we have not been to and laid eyes on, so we're taking our knowledge of Pluto from a few fuzzy pixels in a telescope to this fully realized world with geology and dynamics and processes we barely understand."
And while the first images of the planet we're released yesterday, Halekas says we have even more to look forward to, as the information will take 16 to 18 months to be fully transmitted back to Earth.
In this Talk of Iowa interview, host Charity Nebbe speaks with Halekas about MAVEN, Pluto, and what's next for NASA.