Far ends of the solar system, who cares?

This NASA images of the Pluto system taken by the Hubble Space Telescope (AP Photo/NASA, ESA, and M. Showalter (SETI institute)
This NASA images of the Pluto system taken by the Hubble Space Telescope (AP Photo/NASA, ESA, and M. Showalter (SETI institute)

Just how vast the universe is was brought home to Mr Pendle the other day when he read of a probe launched more than nine years ago but which has not yet reached its destination.

The New Horizons probe is heading for Pluto – no longer classed as a full planet, for those who like Mr Pendle were taught that it was when at school, after something called the International Astronomoical Union decided to downgrade it in 2008 when New Horizons was a third of the distance on its way to find out more about it.

Apparently, when the probe begins to send back images of the icy world, it will take an hour to cross the five billion kilometres back to Earth, and a full 16 months for every bit of information gathered to be transmitted back home.

And that astronomical distance (pun most certainly intended) is not the end of its journey.

From Pluto, the probe heads into the far corner of our Solar System and out into other universes.

Who knows what lies out there – and at the end of the day, apart from those interested in galactical matters, does anyone really care?