NASA’s New Horizons to arrive at Pluto with Clyde Tombaugh’s ashes


NASA’s New Horizons is bringing with it the ashes of Clyde Tombaugh – its discoverer – as it cruises towards the now dwarf-planet or ‘plutoid’. The probe will be close enough on January 15 to start observing Pluto.

Clyde Tombaugh discovered the ice and rock-laden Pluto in 1930 and one of his final requests was that his ashes be sent into space. Tombaugh died on January 17, 1997. Fulfilling that wish NASA has fitted the upper deck of New Horizons probe with a small container containing Tombaugh’s ashes.

“Interned herein are remains of American Clyde W. Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto and the solar system’s ‘third zone'”, reads the inscription on the container.

Since its discovery, little is known about Pluto and the mission is hoping to find answers to fundamental questions about the 9th of our Solar System. New Horizons will be sending back close-up pictures of Pluto and information obtained from observing Pluto could also help explain the origin of life on Earth as it is believed that Kuiper belt may have delivered organic molecules, which sparked life on Earth.

Initially Pluto was classified as a planet, but in 2006 it was downgraded to a dwarf-planet or ‘plutoid’ and since then it is known as ‘asteroid number 134340’. Despite this downgrade, scientists at NASA say that the New Horizons mission is ‘incredibly important’ for the fact that it will be the first time ever that we will be able to observe Pluto and its giant moon Charon from this close.

New Horizons will begin a slow fly-past in the summer, sampling the solar wind, magnetic field, dust and atmospheric conditions and on July 14 it will be the closest to the planet. NASA says that the images sent over by New Horizons when it is closest to Pluto will “knock your socks off”.

As far as scientific instruments go, New Horizons packs a compact multicolour camera, advanced imaging infrared and ultraviolet spectrometers, two powerful particle spectrometers, a high-resolution telescopic camera, and a space-dust detector. Read: Pluto bound New Horizons packs 7 major instruments [Photos]

  • robert d

    How fitting. RiP
    Clyde Tombaugh

  • angryenglishman

    and the only pictures wil see is photoshop 1,s or complete fakes , NASA rest in peace yourself nobody trusts or cares anymore about your fake missions.

  • mfwright

    And to think Clyde Tombaugh spent many days and nights (I think over a year?) going over photo plates one after another. Extremely tedious (rest of would have died in boredom) looking for that one little spec that moved a little differently than the other millions of specs. All without computers (maybe he had some grad students to help him). All this during the roaring 20s and into the Great Depression. Lived long enough to see Hubble images. Fitting tribute NASA sent him to the planet he discovered (hey, I and many others still call Pluto a planet).

  • md5check

    Why does this make you angry? Do you not agree with big science and space technology? Do you hate your mobile phone, your sat-nav, you computer, the web (a CERN creation)? How about an anger management class?

  • David D. Stanton

    Pluto will always be a planet to myself and my family, my children will be taught that regardless of what people tell them it is a planet, well because it should have never been changed, future ones could have been called plutoids but Pluto itself should have kept the title, so in honor of that and in honor of Mr. Tombaugh we will keep it as a planet.

  • David D. Stanton

    You are mistaken, and quite weird in your assertion.