New Mexico Museum of Space History
In honor of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flyby of Pluto on July 14, Alamogordo Mayor Susie Galea proclaimed Pluto to be a planet on July 14, at the Clyde W. Tombaugh Theater on the campus of the New Mexico Museum of Space History.
The New Mexico Legislature made the same declaration in 2007, shortly after Pluto was demoted to dwarf planet. Mayor Galea read the proclamation at 11 a.m. in conjunction with NASA’s celebration of the New Horizons spacecraft.
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft approached its close-up flyby of Pluto, 4.67 billion miles, 7.5 billion kilometers, from Earth on July 14. New Horizons was as close as the spacecraft will get to Pluto, approximately 7,800 miles, 12,500 kilometers, above the surface, after a journey of more than nine years and three billion miles. For much of the day, New Horizons was out of communication with mission control as it gathered data about Pluto and its moons.
The moment of closest approach was marked during the live NASA TV broadcast that included a countdown and discussion of what was expected next as New Horizons made its way past Pluto and potentially dangerous debris.
In the lobby area, a special digital photo exhibit paid tribute to Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto. In addition, the first public showing of Tombaugh’s videographed oral history conducted at the Museum of Space History played on a monitor in the lobby. That video rotated with another recorded by students at West High School in Wichita, Kansas, along with clips and interviews done by Tombaugh at various locations. A written transcript of Tombaugh’s history recorded at the Museum will be available for those who wish to review it. Also on display were handcrafted models of the New Horizons spacecraft built by cadets in the museum’s summer camp program.
The New Mexico Museum of Space History, a Smithsonian affiliate, is a division of the NM Department of Cultural Affairs. For more information on Museum events or on how you can become a member of the International Space Hall of Fame Foundation, call 437-2840 or 1-877-333-6589, or visit the website at www.nmspacemuseum.org.