NASA‘s “New Horizons” spacecraft has traveled 3 billion miles and is nearing the end of its nine-year journey to Pluto. It’s scheduled to begin photographing the mysterious, unexplored, ice world about the 24th of this month.
The spacecraft, named “ New Horizons” is still more than 100 million miles from Pluto so first pictures will reveal little more than bright dots, but the images taken against a field of stars in the background will help scientists determine the remaining distance and keep the spacecraft robot on track for a ”fly by” in July. This is humanity’s first trip into real “outer space”, and scientists are eager to start “exploring”.
Did we even know? Do we even care? Gone are the days when a space launch, ANY space launch, was breaking news and enough to “interrupt your regularly scheduled program”.
Space launches are now routine, and the first pictures sent by the piano-sized spacecraft will be less than breath-taking; little more than dots — New Horizons is still more than 100 million miles from Pluto; but the images taken against star fields, will help scientists calculate the remaining distance and keep the craft on track for a scheduled fly by in July.
As monumental as the achievement is, are we too occupied to be really “amazed” by scientific achievements anymore? After all, If the people want to see Space Travel, they can just download a” Star Trek” or “Star Wars” video.
And there will be no compelling “Moon Walk” and flag- placing to trigger a rush of patriotic zeal; just enough to fill a minute or two on the evening news, before going back to the next terrorist attack or school shooting.
Perhaps the downside of modern “happening at the minute” 24/7 coverage is that it’s made even great events seem commonplace.