“To boldly go where no man has gone before,” proclaimed Captain Kirk in the most famous use of a split infinitive in science-fiction. Well, this morning science-fiction is about to become science-fact (sort of) when the man who discovered Pluto will pass by the dwarf planet, three billion miles from Earth. Okay, his ashes will. But still.
NASA’s New Horizons probe is recording data from the farthest edge of the solar system and sending it back to Earth. But it’s also carrying the ashes of astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930. Tombaugh was 24 when he spotted a tiny speck on a star-map. “When he looked at Pluto, it was just a speck of light,” said his daughter Annette Tombaugh. “To actually see the planet that he had discovered and find out more about its atmosphere, find out more of what it is and actually get to see the moons of Pluto, he would have been astounded.”