Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh’s ashes is set to pass within 12550 kilometres of the icy world he discovered 85 years ago.
Tombaugh’s widow and two children offered up an ounce of his ashes for NASA spacecraft New Horizon’s journey to Pluto. The ashes of the farm boy turned astronomer are in a 5centimeter aluminum capsule inscribed with these words “ Interred herein are remains of American Clyde W.Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto and the solar system’s third zone. Adelle and Muron’s boy Patricia’s husband Annette and Alden’s father astronomer teacher punster and friend Clyde Tombaugh [1906—1977]”
The spacecraft is also carrying a 1991 U S postage stamp that’s about to become obsolete [it trumpets “Pluto Not Yet Explored”] as well as two state quarters one representing Florida home of the launch site and the other Maryland headquarters for the spacecraft’s flight control.
In all nine small mementos are tucked aboard New Horizons when New Horizons rocketed away from Cape Canaveral in Jan 19, 2006 Pluto was the ninth planet in our solar system. It was demoted to a dwarf planet a scant seven months later.
Annette Tombaugh Sitze and her younger brother Alden now in their 70’s plan to be at the flight operation base at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland for Tuesday’s historic encounter. Their mother died in 2012 at age 99. “ I think my dad would be thrilled with the New Horizons. I mean who wouldn’t be?” Annette says in a NASA interview posted online. “ when he looked at Pluto it was just a speck of light>”
A small cutout of Spaceship One is attached to New Horizons. Also on the spacecraft are two U S flags as well as two CDs. One contains the photos of mission’s team members. The other contains 434738 names of people who signed up online in advance.
Courtesy THE HINDU