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Title: Blog by Novelist William S. Frankl, MD

A Truly Magnificent Human Achievement With Perhaps More to Come

While the world, this Earth, was undergoing all manner of chaos, degeneration, famine, epidemics and other delights, a really sensational and providential event occurred: Pluto, the planet (I call it) or the Dwarf planet (as others call it) welcomed, after a 3 billion mile nine year journey, a NASA probe that spied upon its surface and revealed such unexpected findings. This frozen world, at the very edge of our solar system, surrounded by the Kuiper belt filled with ancient debris, some almost as large as Pluto itself, had been for many years the target of speculation. Now the New Horizon Probe has passed by Pluto and is on the way out of our solar system, on a journey far into black space. Will some sentient being, 1000 millennia from now, find it and wonder what and where it came from?

What did the probe find? Its first close up images of Pluto revealed an eerie region where frozen water rose in mountains up to 11,000 feet high. These images of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, were the first close-ups of these worlds and were amazingly clear, revealing features as small as a mile across. Mission scientists at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland, were amazed by what the images revealed. Alan Stern, the project’s principal investigator said, “It is going to send a lot of geophysicists back to the drawing board.” It will likely be days before researchers obtain enough data from the probe to be able to create a full composite image of the surface of both Pluto and Charon. Nevertheless, the scientists everywhere will have to rethink theories about how Pluto and its moons might have been formed. The towering mountains that were revealed amazed the NASA researchers. It is likely that methane ice and nitrogen ice cover most of Pluto’s surface, but these materials are not strong enough to support the weight of such huge mountains now thought to be water ice. And the images of Charon, Pluto’s largest moon, showed an icy crust fractured by cliffs and troughs stretching about 600 miles, with one Canyon appearing to be at least 4 to 6 miles deep. But, like Pluto, Sharon’s surface appeared free of impact craters indicating that the surface of both worlds is relatively young.

Well, what does this all mean? What might this portend? I see that someday, far into the future, perhaps 300 to 1000 years from now, a ship will sail past Pluto (now an important research and transportation station). This ship, propelled by some kind of hydrogen fuel, will cradle hundreds of humans in stasis, on a long journey out of our solar system, into the void, on the way to a planet hundreds of light-years away, where a new beginning for humanity will wait.

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