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Quick Take: A Paleontologist’s View of the New Horizons Pluto Flyby

July 13, 2015

Pluto

Image of Pluto from the New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), July 8, 2015. Credits: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI

“This is a moment for every scientist to be reminded of and to share the passion for discovery that drives each of us to explore.”

Drexel University Professor of Paleontology and Geology Kenneth Lacovara shared this view with Alan Stern, principal investigator of the New Horizons mission, as relayed in Stern’s editorial (with Science editor Marcia McNutt) published in Science. They note that this mission—which is exploring the outermost bodies of our solar system and sending back photos of Pluto and its nearest neighbors over the next week—is an extraordinary opportunity to build public enthusiasm and engagement for science.

Lacovara has sparked plenty of scientific inspiration of his own, with discoveries including the supermassive dinosaur Dreadnoughtus. And, like many scientists and non-scientists among us, he also has a passion for space.

Unlike most of us, Lacovara also has the good luck of being invited to join the New Horizons team at mission control. On July 13-14, he’ll be with the scientific team in person as they view the best-yet images of Pluto as they reach Earth—and he’s prepared to share that excitement with the rest of us. Have you ever wondered what a paleontologist and geologist thinks about space explorations? Follow his live reactions to the new Pluto images via Twitter @kenlacovara and the mission itself at #PlutoFlyby.

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