TAKE 27 LTD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY TAKE 27 LTD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, designed for a close encounter with the dwarf planet Pluto, then an extended mission to the Kuiper Belt. Launched on 19th January, 2006 with its closest approach to Pluto on 14th July, 2015, a journey of around 6 billion kilometres. This was the first time a spacecraft from Earth visited the dwarf planet since its discovery in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh (1906-1997); a small portion of the astronomer's ashes were placed aboard New Horizons. The spacecraft is comparable in size to a grand piano, with a 2.1m radio antenna dish. Its power is generated by the RTG (radioisotope thermoelectric generator), originally a spare from the Cassini mission, the grey cylindrical device protruding from one apex of the spacecraft's body. Following its 15 months studying Pluto, New Horizons continued to the Kuiper Belt, around 1.6 billion kilometres further out than Neptune.
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