WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.), along with a bipartisan group of Senators, today announced a Congressional resolution congratulating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Maryland, the Southwest Research Institute in Colorado, and all other academic and private sector partners of the New Horizons mission on the successful Pluto flyby of the New Horizons probe. The historic mission captured incredible images of and scientific data on the dwarf planet Pluto, its moon Charon, and the surrounding space environment that have led to amazing discoveries and will continue to inspire and enrich life here on Earth.
“President Kennedy once described space exploration as serving ‘to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills.’ In the case of the New Horizons mission, we saw that many of the best ‘energies and skills’ needed to successfully send a man-made craft past Pluto, came from right here in Maryland,” said Senator Cardin. “I am incredibly honored to have both NASA and APL headquartered in Maryland. The work being done by both organizations is leading to amazing academic, social, technical and economic advancement. I will continue to ensure that America remains a universal leader in space exploration by ensuring that NASA, the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, and other industry leaders are adequately funded.”
“New Horizons has accomplished so much and is charting new territory every day. I’m so proud of the scientists, engineers, and researchers at Johns Hopkins’ Applied Physics Laboratory that made this mission possible,” said Senator Mikulski, Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee which funds NASA. “Scientific exploration and knowledge from missions like New Horizons are building blocks for innovation and discovery, taking us to new frontiers. But they also lead to new ideas, new products and new jobs here at home – inspiring our young people to excel in school and become the next generation of scientists, engineers and researchers fueling American innovation and exploration. I fought hard to keep New Horizons flying, and will continue fighting so the men and women at APL and NASA have the funds they need to keep innovating and inspiring.”
Along with Senators Cardin and Mikulski, the resolution, introduced by Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee is co-sponsored by Senators Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).
The full text of the resolution follows:
Title: Recognizing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and its partners for the success of the historic flyby of Pluto by the New Horizons spacecraft.
Whereas in 1930, from the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto, the ninth largest known body orbiting the sun;
Whereas on January 19, 2006, the New Horizons spacecraft launched on an Atlas V launch vehicle from the Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida;
Whereas on July 14, 2015, after a 9.5-year journey, the New Horizons probe successfully flew within approximately 7,800 miles (12,500 kilometers) of the surface of the dwarf planet Pluto;
Whereas the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (referred to in this preamble as ‘‘NASA’’) has now completed missions to each of the 9 largest planetary bodies orbiting the sun;
Whereas the successful New Horizons mission to Pluto was achieved through years of planning, research, design, testing, and mission operations conducted by the dedicated scientists, engineers, and staff at NASA and affiliated academic and private sector partners;
Whereas the New Horizons mission was the first mission to study Pluto, the moons of Pluto, and other planetary building blocks within the Kuiper Belt, which is the ring of icy objects that surrounds the solar system beyond the orbit of Neptune;
Whereas the findings of the New Horizons interplanetary space probe have demonstrated the great scientific value of the continued exploration of Pluto and the outer-region of our solar system;
Whereas New Horizons is the first mission to collect high-resolution images and a variety of other data about the geo- logical and atmospheric composition of Pluto as well as the space environment near Pluto and the moons of Pluto;
Whereas the initial images and data returned from the New Horizons spacecraft have already led to new discoveries about Pluto, the moons of Pluto, and the space environment near Pluto;
Whereas images of Pluto show ice mountains that have never been seen before and that are comparable in height to the Rocky Mountains;
Whereas images of Charon, the largest moon of Pluto, show deep canyons and a row of cliffs and troughs stretching 600 miles wide;
Whereas images of Pluto and Charon show a lack of impact craters, suggesting that their relatively young surfaces have been reshaped by internal geological activity;
Whereas the data collected by instruments on the New Horizons spacecraft confirms that the Pluto system contains a large amount of frozen water, which is considered an essential building block of life;
Whereas the data collected by the New Horizons spacecraft will continue to provide scientific insight, data to train the next generation of planetary scientists, and inspiration to humanity for years to come; and
Whereas the New Horizons spacecraft could continue traveling to the far edges of our solar system and could be capable of exploring the Kuiper Belt and collecting data on our solar system that is not detectable from any other spacecraft or telescope due to its unique position, instrumentation, and long-lasting power supply: Now, there- fore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate—
(1) congratulates the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (referred to in this resolving clause as ‘‘NASA’’), The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland, the Southwest Research Institute in Colorado, and the academic and private sector partners of the New Horizons mission for their roles in the historic flyby of Pluto by the New Horizons spacecraft;
(2) recognizes the importance of the New Horizons mission to the long-term exploration of the solar system by NASA and the training of the next generation of planetary scientists;
(3) recognizes the importance of the continued pursuit of robotic space exploration missions by NASA, which enable extraordinary scientific discoveries about the nature and origin of our solar system and beyond; and
(4) recognizes the significance of the scientific and engineering research by NASA with respect to stimulating economic growth, strengthening national competitiveness, and inspiring humankind.
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