The most distant space traveler in human history is now past Pluto, soon to exit the solar system.

The Marvels of Space Exploration

Many people harbor dreams of exploring the vast expanse of outer space. With advancements in technology, humanity is no longer content with basic needs but aims to give life more profound meaning. In 1942, Germans successfully launched the V2 rocket, laying the foundation. On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union sent the world’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik, into space using the Sputnik rocket, turning a dream spanning millennia into reality and heralding a new era of space exploration. Humans have already set foot on the moon, dispatched probes to explore the eight major planets, and NASA is gearing up to send humans to Mars.

space traveler

Voyager 1, a unmanned spacecraft developed by NASA, weighing 815kg, is still operational. It has visited Jupiter and Saturn and was the first spacecraft to provide high-resolution images of satellites. On August 25, 2012, Voyager 1 became the first spacecraft to cross the heliopause and enter interstellar space. As of October 23, 2019, a message from Voyager 1 indicated it was 21.1 billion kilometers away from the Sun, completely leaving the inner solar system and heading towards the vast cosmic ocean.

So, who is currently the farthest space traveler? This honor belongs to astronomer Clyde Tombaugh. Born on February 4, 1906, in Illinois, USA, the intelligent Tombaugh had a keen interest in space exploration. At the age of 23, he built his own telescope, sent his observations of Jupiter and Mars to the Lowell Observatory in Arizona, where he was subsequently hired as an observer, embarking on decades of work.

Tombaugh’s greatest achievement occurred in 1930 when, based on predictions from other astronomers, he discovered Pluto. Observing that Uranus and Neptune exhibited deviations from their expected orbits during their movements, it was inferred that another celestial body must be exerting gravitational influence in their vicinity.

space discovery

Tombaugh seized this information opportunistically, leading to the discovery of Pluto. Subsequently, he was awarded a degree in astronomy by the University of Kansas. Tombaugh taught at New Mexico State University from 1955 until his retirement and passed away in 1997. Aside from Pluto, he discovered 14 small asteroids. Even though in 2006 the International Astronomical Union reclassified Pluto, citing factors like its geographical location and size, this does not diminish Tombaugh’s contributions to human knowledge.

space hero

To honor Tombaugh, after his death, in 2006, scientists placed his ashes on the New Horizons spacecraft specifically sent by NASA to explore Pluto. Thus, he became the first human to visit Pluto.

In 2015, the New Horizons mission with Tombaugh’s ashes on board flew past Pluto on July 14, 2015. In those brief minutes, scientists captured valuable data, making New Horizons the fifth spacecraft to traverse the orbit of Neptune. Currently, New Horizons is swiftly departing from Pluto and entering the Kuiper Belt, soon to exit the solar system.

cosmic journey

As the vast cosmos unfolds before us, we can’t help but feel insignificant. Yet, the essence of life lies in continuous exploration. Hopefully, one day, humanity will fulfill its dream of space travel.

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