New Horizons wasn't the only voyage launched on January 19, 2006 - this week we welcome the "Pluto Pals" to the New Horizons team, five kids who were born on the same day our spacecraft embarked on its historic journey the outer solar system. The idea for the club came to New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern last year as he scanned news coverage of the spacecraft's launch. "I saw a fantastic Florida Today image of two boys watching the launch," he said. "It made me think it would be fun to follow some children who would grow up during our 9 1/2 year trip to Pluto."
This past January - just as the spacecraft was about to take its own cautious first steps through the Jupiter system - Stern and the New Horizons Education and Public Outreach team put out a call for those who were born or turned 10 on launch day. Five toddlers were selected and you can see their "photo albums " on the New Horizons Web site at http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/education/plutoPals/.
From time to time we'll check in on the kids - Hana, Nora, Zachary, Lucas and Miranda -adding photos after each birthday. When they reach 4th grade, New Horizons will be at Pluto.
In fact, the club has room for a few older Pluto Pals -- if you or a relative or a friend has a child who was born on January 19, 1996, please send the child's name, birth date, a recent picture and parents' contact info to firstname.lastname@example.org.