Hello Pluto

Pluto By Moonlight.  Image credit Image credit: NASA/JHUAPL / SwRI
Pluto By Moonlight. Image credit Image credit: NASA/JHUAPL / SwRI

Home!  All but invisible across the vastness of space;  

all but inaccessible from where you are.

The spacecraft door opens and instantly, in a cacophony of emotions, your thoughts are a jumbled, uncontrolled maelstrom as you stand on the surface of a planet three billion miles from home; so far from home, in fact, the sun is a thousand times dimmer than it is where you started your journey – Earth

No warming rays, no squinting in the harsh light of the Sun.  Rather; only the dimmest of light, the shadows barely perceptible in the strained, muted glow of reflected light from Charon.

You’re fortunate to have a partner with whom to share the mind-numbing view.  Yet; the sheer loneliness is paralyzing as you try to imagine the distance to home – to fellow human contact.

In this inhospitable world, it is so utterly frigid, even your thoughts are frozen, leaving you speechless at sights no human has ever before seen, not even with the aid of our best telescope, Hubble.  Inhospitable, alien, and perilous, yet the breath-taking beauty is exhilarating beyond anything you’ve encountered.

“Absolute!”  A term used in rare circumstances.

But, the remoteness of Pluto is such that where you now stand will likely never again see human footprints.

“Contact” with home is nothing more than invisible radio waves; a thin, frail thread three billion miles long linking you the human race.  Along this thread, any communications you have with home are tenuous, at best, for you are so remote it takes four and one-half hours for radio transmissions, traveling at almost the speed of light, to reach you from Earth.

Self-sufficiency now harbors a special inference; if you encounter a problem, any problem that cannot be corrected by your own training, imagination and skills, the nine-hour response time will surely mean your death, long before you receive the instructions with which to prevent it.

Yes; absolute isolation!

Uncontrollably contemplative, engulfed by an overwhelming sense of wonderment, you wonder; “is this how humanity’s early explorers felt?”

Ten, very long years, you started this journey.  Yet; we haven’t even made a noticeable scratch on the surface of exploring our own galaxy, much less beyond, in interstellar discovery.

Wonderment is instantly transformed to insignificance at the realization that your step, the first onto this surface, with all the work and accomplishments of humanity to this point, don’t even register on the massive scale of the known universe.

Innumerable hazards.  Severe isolation.  Dubious survivability.

Indeed!  But a fabulous journey despite them all.

For more about the New Horizons and our incredible journey into space:

Dark Matter Space

NASA

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6 thoughts on “Hello Pluto

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