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New Horizons at Closest Approach to Pluto

New Horizons at Closest Approach to Pluto

C025/5784

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Credit

TAKE 27 LTD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY TAKE 27 LTD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, at its closest approach to Pluto on Tuesday, 14th July, 2015, at 11:49:57 UT. Launched on 19th January, 2006, a journey of around 6 billion kilometres. This was the first time a spacecraft from Earth visited the dwarf planet and its largest moon Charon since its discovery in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh (1906-1997). 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, which is the cylindrical device protruding from one apex of the spacecraft's body. Following its 15 months studying Pluto, New Horizons continued out to the Kuiper Belt to study the icy mini-worlds 1.6 billion kilometres further out than Neptune.

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