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Science & Technology

San Antonio Scientists Play Role In Pluto Probe



The New Horizons spacecraft that’s flying by Pluto Tuesday has San Antonio roots.

It was launched in January 2006. Tuesday the New Horizons spacecraft will make its closest flyby of Pluto.

The spacecraft was designed by scientists at the Southwest Research Institute, based in San Antonio.

Three billion miles of space travel have led up to this moment.

"It feels like you've been walking on an escalator for almost a decade and then you step onto a supersonic transport. And that's the pace of the flyby. So it's pretty impressive and it's a little bit surreal, but the energy level is just electric," said Doctor Alan Stern, the New Horizons principle investigator and associate vice president in the Space Science and Engineering Division of Southwest Research.

New Horizons will be traveling at more than 36,000 miles per hour as it passes Pluto on Tuesday morning.

It will take more than a year to get all of the information collected during the flyby.

"It'll be up to almost 16 months for us to get all the data down. So you're going to be seeing new images months from now, that you're not seeing this week," said deputy program manager Cathy Olkin.

New Horizons has already been sending back valuable information during its approach.