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New Horizons Makes Closest Pluto Flyby

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is making its closest approach to Pluto Tuesday morning.

Traveling almost 30,000 mph through the solar system, New Horizons will fly by Pluto – a 3 billion mile trip since its launch in 2006.

The deep space probe will survey the surface of the icy dwarf-planet and send back photos never before seen.

Doctor Alan Stern, New Horizons Principle Investigator, hopes the findings can shed light on how planets are formed. “Pluto is sort of a connecting dot in how things formed from the smallest rocks and pebbles to the biggest planets like Jupiter.”

Stern says the probe is equipped to take a detailed look at the dwarf-planet.

“Well we’re going in with our eyes wide open, with the most advanced series of scientific instruments ever brought on the reconnaissance of a new planet,” he said.

This is the first major planetary discovery since Voyager 2 surveyed Neptune in 1989.

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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Intersection' Producer

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts "Are We There Yet?", WMFE's space exploration podcast He also helps produce WMFE's twice-weekly public affairs show "Intersection," working with host Matthew Peddie to shape the ... Read Full Bio »