Even in our deep ocean, there are ecosystems at work with no light whatsoever down in the deepest portions of the oceanic abyss.

I can't imagine how many kids around the world will look at pictures of Pluto and think, 'I want to grow up to be a scientist.'

When I started working with NASA in 1989 as part of a mission to send spacecraft to Pluto, I knew it would take at least 10-15 years to see results of my efforts.

People ask, 'What are the scientific questions you're going to answer?' New Horizons doesn't have any of those; it's purely about raw exploration... We're not 'rewriting the textbook' - we're writing the textbook from scratch.

The Kuiper belt region, which I call the third zone because it lies beyond the rocky terrestrial planets and beyond the giant planets, is a bizarre frontier.

We really just didn't realize the diversity of planetary types in our solar system. Pluto looked like a misfit because it was the only one we saw. And just as a Chihuahua is still a dog, these ice dwarfs are still planetary bodies. They're large enough to make themselves round by self gravity, and they surely pass the test of planethood.

Competition-driven innovation and price pressure that commercial practices foster can only make human spaceflight ever more common and U.S. leadership in this domain ever clearer.

I'm hopeful that commercial space exploration will takeoff. To really fuel the spaceflight revolution will require an investment of hundreds of billions of dollars a year, and I think that's only going to happen in the commercial sector - if there are large profits to be made.

The solar system is completely wide open. Almost anywhere we go, I'm sure we would learn a lot.

New Horizons isn't just visiting Pluto; it's visiting this entire region. Whatever it finds, this will be a signal moment for planetary exploration - the capstone to our first reconnaissance of the planets of our solar system.

Just because Pluto or comets aren't as big as Jupiter doesn't mean they are not scientifically important - indeed, just the reverse is often true. Sometimes, great things come in small packages.

Science doesn't work by voting. Did people vote on the theory of relativity? No! It's either right or it's wrong. Do we vote on whether genetics is a good theory or not? Of course not.

The costs of badly-run NASA projects are paid for with cutbacks or delays in NASA projects that didn't go over budget. Hence the guilty are rewarded and the innocent are punished.

If you go to planetary science meetings and hear technical talks on Pluto, you will hear experts calling it a planet every day.

A river is a river, independent of whether there are other rivers nearby. In science, we call things what they are based on their attributes, not what they're next to.

It shouldn't be so difficult to determine what a planet is. When you're watching a science fiction show like 'Star Trek' and they show up at some object in space and turn on the viewfinder, the audience and the people in the show know immediately whether it's a planet or a star or a comet or an asteroid.

Pluto has a very interesting history, and there is a lot of work that we need to do to understand this very complicated place.

Having a diverse suite of U.S.-manned spaceflight systems to access space is inherently robust.

Pluto has strong atmospheric cycles: it snows on the surface; the snows sublimate and go back into the atmosphere each 248 year orbit.

People dig exploration.

If two billion people wanted to watch a robot fly by Pluto, imagine what it will be like when the first humans step on Mars. It'll be the most unifying event anybody could ever put on.

I tend to think of Pluto and its moons as presents sitting under a Christmas tree. They're wrapped, and from Earth all we can do is look at the boxes to see whether they're light or heavy, to see if something maybe jiggles a bit inside. We're seeing intriguing things, but we really don't know what's in there.

As a planetary scientist, I don't know what else to call Pluto: It's big and round and thousands of miles wide.

Discovering that our solar system has many more planets than we ever expected, and that most of them are ice dwarfs rather than like Earth and the other rocky terrestrials, is just another step in the revolution in viewpoint that removed the Earth from the center of the physical universe and makes Earth all the more special.

I've been on 26 space missions; they range from suborbital to orbital to shuttle experiments to planetary missions.

In science, we take large numbers of disparate facts and reduce them to see patterns. We use the patterns to reduce the amount of information. It's the reason we name species and genera and families in biology. It's also the reason we have names for certain types of geological features and so on in other fields.

Every mission has life-or-death moments.

That so many binary or quasi-binary KBOs exist came as a real surprise to the research community.

You could not have predicted the amazing discoveries at Pluto, even though we have been to a couple of objects in the solar system that were at least a little analogous to Pluto.

I actually started my career in planetary science with a master's thesis on Pluto.

It's very hard to motivate yourself and others with only one goal - particularly if it's complex and you might not get there until years down the road. That's why intermediate goals are so important.

Just speaking for myself, I think the return of people to the Moon has a lot to offer for understanding the formation and evolution of terrestrial worlds; so would the exploration of near-Earth asteroids by people.

Going to the Kuiper Belt is like an archaeological dig into the history of the solar system.

No one predicted Mercury would be a planetary core with the mantle stripped off. No one predicted volcanoes on the Jovian moons, or oceans on the inside of them. I can tell you, for every single planet, huge 'we never guessed that' things.

New Horizons is a very high-tech, small, roughly 1,000-pound spacecraft with the most powerful battery of scientific instrumentation ever brought to bear on a first reconnaissance mission.

A miniature poodle is not not a dog just because it's miniature.

To keep everyone invested in your vision, you have to back up a little bit and really analyze who the different stakeholders are and what they individually respond to.

There are lots of really interesting little planets out there in the Kuiper Belt, but Pluto's the only one that's got all the cool attributes.

The big lesson of planetary science is when you do a first reconnaissance of a new kind of object, you should expect the unexpected.

If the Pluto mission was a cat, then it would've been dead long ago because they only get nine lives, and we've had significantly more than nine stoppages and odd twists and turns.

We made more than just scientific discoveries... we rediscovered how much people love exploration.

I think when people see Pluto revealed by New Horizons, its satellite system, its complex surface, its atmosphere, I think they'll have a hard time saying 'That's not a planet' because it obviously will be, and I think most people are already coming to that opinion anyway, but I think that's really going to drive it home viscerally.

The Kuiper Belt is the largest mapped structure in our planetary system, three times as big as all the territory from the sun out to Neptune's orbit.

Just because Pluto orbits with many other dwarf planets doesn't change what it is, just as whether an object is a mountain or not doesn't depend on whether it's in a group or in isolation.

During one of the Apollo missions, I saw Walter Cronkite showing off the flight plan. It just mesmerized me. All this detail! That's what I wanted.

CSF and its members believe strongly in the exploration of space of all kinds, including commercial purposes.

It is only by freeing NASA from routine human transport to low-Earth orbit that we can afford to once again see American astronauts exploring distant worlds.

Either data supports the observations or they don't. Voting doesn't work in science.

People know a planet when they see one, and I think that's a pretty darn good test, in fact, for planethood.