NASA’s New Horizons probe whizzed within several thousand miles of Pluto at 7:49 a.m. ET Tuesday, marking the closest approach the spacecraft will make to that unexplored world — and making the U.S. the only nation to have gotten up-close looks at each of the planets in the classical solar system. The spacecraft has already provided clearer images of Pluto and its large moon Charon than anything before, but it is supposed to be beaming back even better data and images soon.
Until then, here are 12 astounding numbers about NASA and its Pluto mission:
3 billion miles: The length of New Horizon’s journey to reach Pluto
9.5 years: How many years that journey has taken. New Horizons was launched on Jan. 19, 2006.
7,750 miles: The closest approach New Horizons made to Pluto
30,800 miles per hour: The speed the New Horizons spacecraft was traveling at when it passed Pluto today.
16 months: The amount of time it will take for New Horizons to transmit to NASA all of the images and information taken during its pass by Pluto
$720 million: The cost of the entire mission, including spacecraft and instrument development, data analysis, education/public outreach, mission operations and launch vehicles from 2001-2016
1930: The year astronomer Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto. Tombaugh died in 1997, and some of his ashes are on the New Horizons spacecraft.
2006: The year Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet
2,370 km: The diameter of Pluto, which is 18.5 percent that of Earth’s
$43.5 billion: NASA’s budget (in 2015 dollars) in 1966, when the U.S. was in the midst of its space race with the Soviet Union
$24 billion: NASA’s budget (in 2015 dollars) in fiscal year 1991, the same year a Pluto postage stamp came out
$17.65 billion: NASA’s fiscal 2014 budget