Sometimes you have to just sit back and wonder.
Image of Pluto’s ice mountains. Photo: NASA/JHU APL/SwRI. Source: NASA
On Wednesday the New Horizons space probe flew by the planet Pluto, transmitting pictures from 3 billion miles away that are truly mind-blowing: ice mountains over 11,000 feet high; water, methane, and nitrogen ice interacting to erase all but the most recent craters; light and dark regions of unknown composition.
Pluto was only discovered 85 years ago, when Clyde Tombaugh compared two telescopic pictures taken a few days apart. He noticed that one of the dots of light had shifted slightly. Now a sophisticated sensor array is streaming high-resolution images of Pluto and its five moons with a 15-watt transmitter. It will take more than a year to transmit all the data.
Pluto’s geology and atmosphere will now be studied and debated. While this mission took almost 25 years to bear fruit—from conception to data-transmission—it demonstrates that we can accomplish great things when we put our minds and wills together. It reminds me of another great accomplishment in space, 46 years ago, when we first walked on the Moon.
Tennyson’s poem Ulysses describes our very human desire “to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” As long as we keep striving, our economies and markets should keep growing.
Douglas Tengdin, CFA
Charter Trust Company