Dear Kid,

Pluto is in the news! (The planet, not thePluto. But not a planet. dog.)

As reported by a bunch of news agencies and (more importantly) re-reported by Uncle David to me:

When the New Horizons space craft flies by Pluto tomorrow, it will be 3 billion miles from earth.

It was launched in January 2006 — and to reach Pluto has been flying 1 million miles PER DAY.

To put this in perspective… if the sun were the size of a quarter and were placed on the goal line of a football field, Earth would be at the 3 yard line and Pluto would be 18 yards beyond the far goal line.

This means it takes a radio signal traveling at the speed of light 4.5 hours to reach the spacecraft.

Nevertheless, to achieve the maximum from its experiments, the spacecraft must pass through an imaginary window only 60 by 90 miles wide… within a time parameter of 100 seconds!

To put this in perspective…

Let’s say a parent gave a Kid $100. By 2015 that money would have grown to…wait a minute. That money would be long spent. Dumb analogy.

One wonders who gets the frequent flyer miles for a flight that long…

In other Pluto news, it will take 16 months for the New Horizons probe to send back all the information it collects.

To put that in perspective…about as long as it will take for a parent to learn about something interesting that happened in their kid’s life.

Dwarf. But not a planet. DearKidLoveMom.comAnd in still other Pluto news, there is a movement rebellion protest objection among some astronomers and other scientifically-oriented people about the whole “dwarf planet” thing.

“Dwarves are miners who sing Hi Ho,” said absolutely no one. “They are not planets.”

Actually, the issue isn’t about whether any large, orbiting body should be a dwarf planet, the issue is whether this particular large, orbiting body should be a dwarf planet. Official people say Yes, it is because we said so. Smart people (and by “smart” I mean me and other emotional people plus a bunch of folks who know what they are talking about) say No, it’s as much a planet as Jupiter.

So far, Pluto hasn’t weighed in on how it self-identifies. Maybe we’ll find out in 16 months.

Love, Mom

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