Yesterday morning, the world woke up to witness a corner of the universe three billion miles away. Since the 1970s, the 200 member team behind the New Horizons mission has carefully prepared for this critical flyby moment. On Tuesday morning, NASA’s probe cruised within 8,000 whiles of Pluto, transmitting color photographs of the planet and its five moons back to Earth. When the team witnessed the images for the first time, they gasped and burst into thunderous applause.
Image courtesy of Brit and Co.
Who’s to thank for this incredible mission? As it turns out, a great number of women. Of the 200 staff members, 25% of them are women in STEM. We’ve noted in the past that historically, the path to women in space (and STEM in general) has not been an easy one. Perhaps what’s most refreshing is that, when asked how it feels to be part of a team with so many women, the answer was simply: normal. Deputy project scientist Kim Ennico confessed, “I’ve never really thought about it. I’m really only conscious of it when there are only women in a meeting room.”
Image courtesy of The Atlantic
Excited to learn more? Don’t worry; the mission didn’t end on July 14. In fact, it’s just getting started. Because of its distance from Earth, the probe will continue to send new data for months to come. Check up on the New Horizons website for periodic updates and a glimpse of what’s in store when data collection ends. You can also interact with other New Horizons fans on Facebook and Twitter.