I was up, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, sipping my coffee, when I watched a NASA webcast of New Horizons make its closest flyby of Pluto at 7:49 a.m. E.D.T. The piano-size probe buzzed within 7,800 miles of the far-flung, little reddish world.
At 4:20 p.m. E.D.T., New Horizons is expected to call Earth, sending a “phone home” signal to show that it has completed the closest phase of the flyby. It’ll take about 4.5 hours for the signal to traverse the three billion miles between Pluto and Earth.
Update: On schedule, at 8:52:37 p.m. E.D.T., the message arrived at mission control at Johns Hopkins’ Applied Physics Laboratory, in Laurel, Maryland.