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Remembering the Pluto Campaign: A Success Story

The Society Worked for Years to Help Launch a Mission to Pluto

Posted by Casey Dreier

22-07-2013 14:11 CDT

Topics: New Horizons, Pluto, history, Charon, best of, Planetary Society Political Advocacy, dwarf planets beyond Neptune, Planetary Society History

There's a fascinating Pluto conference going on this week at the Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland. Our Planetary Evangelist/Senior Editor Emily Lakdawalla will be there to cover all the great Pluto-system science that is happening (and will happen!) thanks to the New Horizons spacecraft that will fly by Pluto in 2015 (you can also follow the hashtag #PlutoSci on Twitter).

This seemed like a good excuse to dig through the archives and restore some content from our old website. So go ahead and check out our Pluto Project page to see just how much damn work the Society did to help make this mission a reality.

It's a good reminder that we can't take exploration for granted. It doesn't just happen. It took years to get a mission to Pluto to the launchpad, requiring active political advocacy and and tens of thousands of letters of support by Planetary Society members. Our CEO, Bill Nye, has fond memories of delivering wheelbarrows full of messages to Congressional offices in the early 2000s.

As we read Emily's reports of the great science coming our way from New Horizons and ready ourselves for the truly spectacular images that will be delivered of Pluto's surface, remember that it was because we all worked together to make it happen.

New Horizons at Pluto and Charon

Ed Hengeveld / Philip Corneille

New Horizons at Pluto and Charon
See other posts from July 2013


Or read more blog entries about: New Horizons, Pluto, history, Charon, best of, Planetary Society Political Advocacy, dwarf planets beyond Neptune, Planetary Society History


Kim Craig: 07/22/2013 04:11 CDT

This process sounds a lot like what the society and supporters are experiencing in getting the Europa Clipper mission off the drawing board. The lesson is clear and the tactics must be the same. The politicians will hear from us every time they defund or defer this mission!

robspace54: 07/23/2013 08:05 CDT

Nice timeline, but it would have been more interesting if the spacecraft development effort timelines (both the pre-development and design work) of both JPL and JHU-APL would have been added, right up to s/c ship to the Cape and launch.

Laurel Kornfeld: 07/25/2013 09:36 CDT

For another view on the conference, visit

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