Maine Celebrates Pluto Fly-By

For the first time, we are getting a good look at the dwarf planet, Pluto, as NASA's New Horizons probe travels past it, and sends back images to Earth.

"For those who have been waiting to find out about Pluto, it's a monumental day," said University of Southern Maine Astronomer Edward Gleason.

On Tuesday, the probe completed the "Pluto Fly-By," traveling past the dwarf planet and taking the first photographs of its surface.

Clearer images are expected to arrive to Earth on Wednesday morning, and some Mainers are celebrating in a unique way.

Runners will race down a 40 mile solar system replica along Route 1 in Northern Maine Wednesday morning. They will start at the replica of Pluto, in Houlton, and run to the model Earth in Presque Isle.

University of Maine at Presque Isle Professor Kevin McCartney organized the run, and said the runners will keep a pace of about 7 miles per hour. On the scale of the replica, they will be traveling at "light speed."

The runners will start at 3 a.m. Wednesday and arrive to "Earth" around 8:30 a.m., around the time NASA receives the images of Pluto from the New Horizons.

"We are going to be figuratively bringing those pictures back to Earth, at light speed," said McCartney.

There are other events happening around the state to commemorate the Pluto Fly By: in Bangor, the Challenger Learning Center of Maine held a "Plutopalooza" party Tuesday evening.  

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