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#MakeSpaceForWomen: Women of Pluto Flyby Team Are Making History

After 9 years and more than 3 billion miles, NASA's New Horizons flew by Pluto at 7:49 a.m. ET Tuesday.

According to NASA, mission scientists have found Pluto to be 1,473 miles in diameter, which is somewhat larger than many prior estimates.


SNEAK PEEK of gorgeous Pluto! The dwarf planet has sent a love note back to Earth via our New Horizons spacecraft, which has traveled more than 9 years and 3+ billion miles. This is the last and most detailed image of Pluto sent to Earth before the moment of closest approach - 7:49 a.m. EDT today. This same image will be released and discussed at 8 a.m. EDT today. Watch our briefing live on NASA Television at: The high res pic will be posted on the web at: This stunning image of the dwarf planet was captured from New Horizons at about 4 p.m. EDT on July 13, about 16 hours before the moment of closest approach. The spacecraft was 476,000 miles (766,000 kilometers) from the surface. Image Credit: NASA #nasa #pluto #plutoflyby #newhorizons #solarsystem #nasabeyond #science

A photo posted by NASA (@nasa) on

"The size of Pluto has been debated since its discovery in 1930. We are excited to finally lay this question to rest," said mission scientist Bill McKinnon, Washington University, St. Louis, in a NASA report.

The New Horizons team is also important for women in space. According to The Atlantic, the New Horizons team may include more women staffers than any other NASA project in history.

"I don't know whether it’s technically the most," Fran Bagenal, an astrophysicist who has worked on NASA missions for four decades, told The Atlantic. "But I was involved in Voyager going back to the '70s, as well as Galileo, and a whole bunch of missions. I can say: There are certainly a lot of us."

The New Horizons team includes about 200 people. According to NASA, women make up 25 percent of the flyby team. The women of the New Horizons flyby of Pluto look forward to the day when the conversation about gender becomes irrelevant. “Girls will be inspired to be scientists and boys will grow up to be 'gender blind,' seeing women in science as the norm," said Leslie Young, deputy project scientist who is also the encounter planning leader on the science team, in a report from NASA.

Learn more about our newly launched MAKER, NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, in the video above.

NEXT: Space Is For Everyone »

Related Stories:
• Get to Know Mae Jemison
• On this Day: Mae Jemison Became the African-American Woman in Space

Photo Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI via Getty Images