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Pluto fly-by: a graphical guide to the historic mission

New Horizons mission is set to speed past an ice world at the fringes of the Solar System.

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This article is part of the Nature special: Pluto and Ceres.

On 14 July, after a journey of nine and a half years and some 5 billion kilometres, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will visit the frigid frontier of the Solar System: Pluto. It will be a fast and furious meeting — the spacecraft will whiz past at nearly 50,000 kilometres per hour, collecting photographs and scientific data on Pluto’s surface, atmosphere and environment during the 24-hour event. No mission has ever visited Pluto or any of the other ice worlds that make up the Kuiper belt, the swarm of small and frosty bodies that orbit mostly beyond Neptune. With its huge moon Charon, Pluto also constitutes the Solar System’s only known binary system.

NASA/JHU APL/SWRI; J. Krzysztofiak/Nature

NASA/JHU APL/SWRI; J. Krzysztofiak/Nature

NASA/JHU APL/SWRI; J. Krzysztofiak/Nature

J. Krzysztofiak/Nature; Moon data: NASA/ESA/M. Showalter (SETI Institute)

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  • Design by Jasiek Krzysztofiak

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