New Horizons Phones Home! Stunning Pluto Flyby Images To Be Released Today

New Horizons Flight Controllers celebrate after they received confirmation from the spacecraft that it had successfully completed the flyby of Pluto, Tuesday, July 14, 2015 in the Mission Operations Center (MOC) of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), Laurel, Maryland. Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls

We did it! New Horizons phoned home at about 8:53 PM EDT on July 14 to confirm it had successfully completed the flyby of Pluto. The spacecraft is healthy, performed all the science observations, and its 'hard drive' is full of images and data. There was so much data collected during the flyby that it will take 16 months to send it all back to Earth.

"I know today we’ve inspired a whole new generation of explorers with this great success, and we look forward to the discoveries yet to come," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "This is a historic win for science and for exploration. We’ve truly, once again raised the bar of human potential."

Pluto-Palooza event in Toronto, Canada. New Horizons fans celebrating after the successful flyby of the Pluto system.

"Following in the footsteps of planetary exploration missions such as Mariner, Pioneer and Voyager, New Horizons has triumphed at Pluto," says New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. "The New Horizons flyby completes the first era of planetary reconnaissance, a half century long endeavor that will forever be a legacy of our time."

Amazing Flyby Images To Be Released Today

The first ever up close images of Pluto’s surface will be released today at around 3 PM EDT during a NASA media briefing, showing the Pluto system in a light never seen before. Alan Stern says that today "it starts raining data." The initial data sent back will include full disc views of Pluto, Charon, Nix, and Hydra and three zoomed-in views of Pluto at higher resolution. Some data from other instruments, including REX and Alice, will also be sent back. It will take 16 months to send all the flyby data back to Earth.

12 PM – 3 PM: Media at Pluto Central will again have the opportunity to hold one-on-one interviews with scientists working on the mission, as well as informal group meetings. Once again, these won’t be aired, but you can be sure the interviews will be posted online by media outlets. Be sure to follow us on twitter @skysafariastro

3 – 4 PM: Media Briefing: Seeing Pluto in a New Light; Live on NASA TV.

To access the full features of Pluto Safari please download the FREE app for iOS from the Apple App Store or Pluto Safari: New Horizons for Android from Google Play.

Alternatively, if you have SkySafari or Pluto Safari installed you could download the simulation settings file here.