Excitement over the New Horizons probe's flyby past Pluto has been pretty remarkable, and NASA, it seems, has known exactly how to take advantage: hit up social media. The US space agency published the most detailed image of Pluto ever this morning at around 7AM ET, sharing the photo via Instagram hours before it was posted to the official nasa.gov website.
It's a canny decision by NASA, which enjoys some 3.5 million followers on the photo sharing network and routinely clocks up more than 100,000 likes per image. The space agency's social media manager John Yembrick told Wired that the idea was simply to give the world "a sneak peek on Instagram," and that NASA feels it's "important to engage new audiences." The space agency appears to have achieved this with its active Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts, but this appears to be the first time it's ever given one platform such a head start with new content. "It’s the first time we are aware of a major debut," a spokesperson for the Facebook-owned Instagram told Wired.
Update 9.55AM ET, July 14th: Updated with a link to the higher-resolution version of the image.
Verge Features Space exploration is back