Citizens of Earth their Solar System’s most prominent “dwarf planet”

At the beginning of July, the United States became the first country to reach Pluto — and the first country to explore the entire classical solar system: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.

NASA’s New Horizons interplanetary probe has been making its way to Pluto since January 19, 2006, and has been providing the world with the sharpest photos ever seen of our Solar System‘s most prominent “dwarf planet.” On the 14th of July, it made its closest approach to Pluto yet — about 8,000 miles — at around 07:49:57 EDT.

Here’s the photo they took — which, despite travelling at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second), took four and a half hours to reach us here on Earth as it crossed the 3 billion miles between here and Pluto:

The closest photo we've taken of Pluto.

Tyson - Apollo 40th anniversary 2009.jpg

Neil deGrasse Tyson (°1958) American astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator, hosting the 40th anniversary celebration of Apollo 11 at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, July 2009

That we were able to get so close to Pluto today is a feat whose probability scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson likened to “a hole-in-one on a two-mile golf shot.” He’s right.

Every once in a while, a photo comes along that has the ability to shift not just how we see our place in the universe, but how we see ourselves — not just as Americans, but as citizens of Earth.

This is one of those photos, and I hope you’ll share it with someone today.

Around 8:00 a.m. Eastern 15 July , New Horizons passed within 8,000 miles of Pluto — capturing even better images of the icy dwarf planet than those made earlier in the probe’s approach.

Here is one of those remarkable, newly transmitted images:

This is the closest we've ever been to Pluto.

It’s been a pretty incredible couple of days.

To top it off, say congratulations to the New Horizons team — and then forward this message to a friend who’s been tracking the mission.

More soon —


Dr. John P. Holdren
Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy
The White House

Beauty (and science) in the small things

English: Dr. John Holdren, Director of the Whi...

Dr. John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, sits in the commander’s chair aboard Space Shuttle Discovery at the Orbiter Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Friday, July 8, 2011, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Holdren was given a tour Discovery, which is in the process of decomissioning, following the launch of Atlantis (STS-135) Friday. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dr. John P. Holdren, Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy, The White House likes to point out that his message featuring an image from the Hubble Space Telescope showcasing the densest-known cluster of stars in the Milky Way — and reminding us just how expansive our universe really is, should not let us forget to see the beauty of nature around us here on earth.

There’s beauty (and science) in the small things, too.

He wants to share a few incredible close-ups of bees by U.S. Geological Survey bee expert Sam Droege. Scroll down for some scientific facts about bees.

Check out this cool bee photo!

In addition to being beautiful, in their own way, bees are pretty incredible creatures.

  • The “buzz” associated with honeybees is the sound of their four wings beating more than 11,000 times per minute. With wing-speeds that high, honeybees can fly faster than most people can run: about 15 miles per hour.
  • Ever wonder how bees find their way back to a hive? Among the many tools in their navigation toolbox, bees use magnetism. Worker bees have a region of magnetite in their abdomens that allow them to use the Earth’s magnetic field to help them navigate.
  • Honeybee pollination alone adds more than $15 billion in value to agricultural crops each year, and helps ensure that our diets include ample fruits, nuts, and vegetables.

Honeybees, native bees, other insect pollinators, birds, and bats provide tremendously valuable services to society. That’s why, here at the White House and across the Administration, we’re doing a lot to protect these hardworking contributors to society, which you can learn about here.

Here’s how YOU can join federal agencies in this effort: Plant a pollinator-friendly garden at your own school, home, or business, and help achieve the ambitious goal of planting a million pollinator gardens nationwide. Learn more here.

I’ll be in touch with more soon —


Dr. John P. Holdren
Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy
The White House


  1. Birds, Birds Everywhere
  2. A bird’s eye and reflecting from within
  3. Warm-blooded, feathered vertebrates
  4. A Bird’s-Eye View of Fishing
  5. Birds’ Eye
  6. Food for Thought-Birds of Caution
English: Digitalis ferruginea with honey bees

English: Digitalis ferruginea with honey bees (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lovely pictures by Cindy Knoke:

  1. Hate to Bug You, But…….
  2. Givers of Love: Flora & Fauna~
  3. Busy Bees!
  4. Lavender, Passion & Furbees~
  5. Wild Lilacs Are Blooming All Over!
  6. Bees Abuzzing!
  7. See Bee-knees!
  8. Passion~
  9. Trouble in Hummerville!
  10. A Holler Homecoming~
  11. The Summer Drought is Ending!


Hubble Peers into the Most Crowded Place in the Milky Way

Dr. John P. Holdren, Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy, The White House wanted to share with us:

Check out this cool Hubble photo!

Hubble Peers into the Most Crowded Place in the Milky Way

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image presents the Arches Cluster, the densest known star cluster in the Milky Way. It is located about 25,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Sagittarius (The Archer), close to the heart of our galaxy, the Milky Way. It is, like its neighbor the Quintuplet Cluster, a fairly young astronomical object at between two and four million years old. The Arches cluster is so dense that in a region with a radius equal to the distance between the sun and its nearest star there would be over 100,000 stars! At least 150 stars within the cluster are among the brightest ever discovered in the Milky Way.

These stars are so bright and massive that they will burn their fuel within a short time (on a cosmological scale that means just a few million years). Then they will die in spectacular supernova explosions. Due to the short lifetime of the stars in the cluster the gas between the stars contains an unusually high amount of heavier elements, which were produced by earlier generations of stars.

P.S. — The President liked this photo so much, he tweeted about it!

Take a look at the President's tweet here.