Ongoing Pluto Fly-by (Livestream included): New Horizons’ Final Look at Pluto’s Mysterious Dark Spots (Photo)

The New Horizons spacecraft’s last image of Pluto’s far side, which was taken on July 11, 2015, from a distance of 2.5 million miles (4 million kilometers). Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute View full size image

New Horizons’ last look at Pluto’s Charon-facing hemisphere reveals intriguing geologic details that are of keen interest to mission scientists. This image, taken early the morning of July 11, 2015, shows newly-resolved linear features above the equatorial region that intersect, suggestive of polygonal shapes. This image was captured when the spacecraft was 2.5 million miles (4 million kilometers) from Pluto.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
View full size image


Three billion miles from Earth and just two and a half million miles from Pluto, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has taken its best image of four dark spots that continue to captivate.

The New Horizons spacecraft’s last image of Pluto’s far side, which was taken on July 11, 2015, from a distance of 2.5 million miles (4 million kilometers). Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute View full size image

The spots appear on the side of Pluto that always faces its largest moon, Charon—the face that will be invisible to New Horizons when the spacecraft makes its close flyby the morning of July 14. New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado, describes this image as “the last, best look that anyone will have of Pluto’s far side for decades to come.”

The spots are connected to a dark belt that circles Pluto’s equatorial region. What continues to pique the interest of scientists is their similar size and even spacing. “It’s weird that they’re spaced so regularly,” says New Horizons program scientist Curt Niebur at NASA Headquarters in Washington.  Jeff Moore of NASA’s Ames Research Center, Mountain View, California, is equally intrigued. “We can’t tell whether they’re plateaus or plains, or whether they’re brightness variations on a completely smooth surface.”

Pluto 11 july 2015The large dark areas are now estimated to be 300 miles (480 kilometers) across, an area roughly the size of the state of Missouri.  In comparison with earlier images, we now see that the dark areas are more complex than they initially appeared, while the boundaries between the dark and bright terrains are irregular and sharply defined.

In addition to solving the mystery of the spots, the New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging team is interested in identifying other surface features such as impact craters, formed when smaller objects struck the dwarf planet. Moore notes, “When we combine images like this of the far side with composition and color data the spacecraft has already acquired but not yet sent to Earth, we expect to be able to read the history of this face of Pluto.”

When New Horizons makes its closest approach to Pluto in just three days, it will focus on the opposing or “encounter hemisphere” of the dwarf planet. On the morning of July 14, New Horizons will pass about 7,800 miles (12,500 kilometers) from the face with a large heart-shaped feature that’s captured the imagination of people around the world. Source 


On July 11, 2015, New Horizons captured a world that is growing more fascinating by the day. For the first time on Pluto, this view reveals linear features that may be cliffs, as well as a circular feature that could be an impact crater. Rotating into view is the bright heart-shaped feature that will be seen in more detail during New Horizons’ closest approach on July 14. The annotated version includes a diagram indicating Pluto’s north pole, equator, and central meridian. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

On July 11, 2015, New Horizons captured a world that is growing more fascinating by the day. For the first time on Pluto, this view reveals linear features that may be cliffs, as well as a circular feature that could be an impact crater. Rotating into view is the bright heart-shaped feature that will be seen in more detail during New Horizons’ closest approach on July 14. The annotated version includes a diagram indicating Pluto’s north pole, equator, and central meridian. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

As NASA’s unmanned New Horizons spacecraft speeds closer to a historic July 14 Pluto flyby, it’s continuing to multi-task, producing images of an icy world that’s growing more fascinating and complex every day.

On July 11, 2015, New Horizons captured this image, which suggests some new features that are of keen interest to the Geology, Geophysics and Imaging (GGI) team now assembled at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Maryland. For the first time on Pluto, this view reveals linear features that may be cliffs, as well as a circular feature that could be an impact crater. Just starting to rotate into view on the left side of the image is the bright heart-shaped feature that will be seen in more detail during New Horizons’ closest approach.

The New Horizons spacecraft is now approaching a milestone – only one million miles to Pluto – which will occur at 11:23 p.m. EDT tonight, Sunday, July 12. It’s approaching Pluto after a more than nine-year, three-billion mile journey. At 7:49 AM EDT on Tuesday, July 14 the unmanned spacecraft will zip past Pluto at 30,800 miles per hour (49,600 kilometers per hour), with a suite of seven science instruments busily gathering data. The mission will complete the initial reconnaissance of the solar system with the first-ever look at the icy dwarf planet. Source


Tuesday, July 14 2015 at 7:49 AM EDT

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PlutoFlyBy july 14 2015At 7:49 AM EDT on Tuesday, July 14 New Horizons will zip past Pluto at 30,800 miles per hour (49,600 kilometers per hour), with a suite of seven science instruments busily gathering data. The mission will complete the initial reconnaissance of the solar system with the first-ever look at the icy dwarf planet.

Follow the path of the spacecraft in coming days in real time with a visualization of the actual trajectory data, using NASA’s online Eyes on Pluto.



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Full Trajectory: Side View This image shows New Horizons’ current position along its full planned trajectory. The green segment of the line shows where New Horizons has traveled since launch; the red indicates the spacecraft’s future path. Positions of stars with magnitude 12 or brighter are shown from this perspective, which is slightly above the orbital plane of the planets.

Follow the path of the spacecraft in coming days in real time with a visualization of the actual trajectory data, using NASA’s online Eyes on Pluto.

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  • Blog: What a Journey!
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  • New Horizons Pluto Stamp Earns Guinness World Record
    The 1991 "Pluto Not Yet Explored" stamp on board the New Horizons spacecraft has earned a Guinness World Record for the farthest distance traveled by a postage stamp.
  • Video: Imagine a Landing on Pluto
    Imagine a future spacecraft following New Horizons' trailblazing path to Pluto, but instead of flying past its target – as New Horizons needed to do to explore Pluto and the Kuiper Belt beyond – the next visitor touches down near the tall mountains on the frozen icy, plains of Pluto's heart.
  • Looking Back, a Year after Pluto
    A year after the New Horizons mission made science and space exploration history – the exploration of Pluto completed the era of first reconnaissance of the planets begun by NASA in 1962 – the spacecraft is now nearly 300 million miles beyond Pluto, speeding toward its next target in the Kuiper Belt and not looking back.
  • Exploration Ahead!
    When Principal Investigator Alan Stern tweeted on the morning of July 1 that the mission team was exactly 2.5 years from a hoped-for Kuiper Belt object flyby, little did he know that NASA would announce its approval of the flyby later that day.
  • Blog: Rewriting the Playbook on Pluto
    Through all the mission planning and activity, New Horizons scientists were certain that they were going to rewrite textbooks based on what they found at Pluto. Science team member Richard Binzel writes about the team's plans to revise the granddaddy text book of them all.
  • The Jagged Shores of Pluto's Highlands
    A new enhanced color image from New Horizons zooms in on the southeastern portion of Pluto's great ice plains, where the plains border rugged, dark highlands informally named Krun Macula.
  • Secrets Revealed from Pluto's 'Twilight Zone'
    New Horizons took this stunning image only minutes after passing Pluto; looking back at Pluto with images like this gives scientists information about Pluto's hazes and surface properties that they can't get from images taken on approach.
  • Pluto's Heart: Like a Cosmic 'Lava Lamp'
    Like a cosmic lava lamp, a large section of Pluto's icy surface is being constantly renewed by a process called convection that replaces older surface ices with fresher material.
  • New Pluto and Planetary Stamps Wow at World Stamp Show
    Breathtaking images of New Horizons and Pluto got a stamp of approval from the U.S. Postal Service, which unveiled striking new Forever stamps on May 31.
  • New Horizons' Best Close-Up of Pluto's Surface
    Check out the most detailed view of Pluto's surface you'll likely see for a long time. A new mosaic includes all of the highest-resolution images taken by New Horizons from the July 2015 Pluto flyby.
  • Blog: Behind the Lens at New Horizons' Pluto Flyby
    Scientist Henry Throop, who pointed his camera at his friends and colleagues during the New Horizons Pluto encounter, shares some of his favorite images from this epic journey to the frontier of the solar system.
  • Pluto's 'Fretted' Terrain
    New Horizons scientists have spotted an expanse of terrain they describe as "fretted," and unlike anything they've seen on Pluto so far.
  • New Horizons Collects First Science on a Post-Pluto Object
    Warming up for a possible extended mission as it speeds through deep space, New Horizons spacecraft has now twice observed Kuiper Belt object 1994 JR1. Science team members have used these observations to reveal new facts about this distant remnant of the early solar system.
  • First Stellar Occultations Shed Additional Light on Pluto's Atmosphere
    First Stellar Occultations Shed Additional Light on Pluto's Atmosphere
  • Kudos Continue for New Horizons Mission Accomplishments
    New Horizons is hundreds of millions of miles and almost 10 months beyond its exploration of Pluto – but here on Earth, the honors for that historic achievement continue.
  • Icy Hydra
    The first compositional data on Pluto's four small satellites show the surface of Hydra, Pluto's outermost small moon, is dominated by nearly pristine water ice.
  • Study: Pluto's Interaction with the Solar Wind is Unique
    Pluto behaves less like a comet than expected and somewhat more like a planet like Mars or Venus in the way it interacts with the solar wind, a continuous stream of charged particles from the sun. This is according to the first analysis of Pluto's interaction with the solar wind, funded by NASA's New Horizons mission and published today in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Space Physics by the American Geophysical Union (AGU).
  • Blog: Planning for Pluto with GeoVis
    How does the New Horizons team choose where to point the spacecraft's science instruments? Planetary scientist Henry Throop writes about his role as the developer and maintainer of GeoViz, which is the software tool the science team uses for planning observations.
  • New Elevation Map of Pluto's Sunken 'Heart'
    The newest shaded relief view of the region surrounding the left side of Pluto's heart-shaped feature shows that the vast expanse of the icy surface is, on average, two miles lower than the surrounding terrain.
  • Pluto's 'Halo' Craters
    Within Pluto's informally named Vega Terra region is a field of eye-catching craters that looks like a cluster of bright halos scattered across a dark landscape.
  • To Boldly Go On, In the Service of Exploration
    With his eyes on the future, Principal Investigator Alan Stern describes the mission's proposal to NASA to continue the exploration by New Horizons. The proposed effort covers nearly two billion more miles of space and includes a KBO close flyby in 2019.
  • The Icy 'Spider' on Pluto
    Sprawling across Pluto's icy landscape is an unusual geological feature that resembles a giant spider.
  • New Horizons Fills Gap in Space Environment Observations
    Stunning images of Pluto are the most famous result from New Horizons, but the spacecraft also sent back over three years' worth of measurements of the solar wind - the constant flow of solar particles that the sun flings out into space - from a region that has been visited by only a few spacecraft.
  • Pluto's Bladed Terrain in 3-D
    The "bladed" terrain just east of Tombaugh Regio is one of the strangest landforms on Pluto – get some 3-D glasses and see for yourself!
  • Pluto: On Frozen Pond
    New Horizons spied several features on Pluto that offer evidence of a time when liquids might have flowed across and pooled on the surface of the distant world.
  • New Horizons Team Presents Latest Pluto Science Results at Planetary Conference
    New Horizons scientists will present nearly 40 reports on the Pluto system this week at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, starting with a media briefing on Monday at noon CDT.
  • New Horizons Team Earns Prestigious Space Science, Engineering Honors
    The team behind NASA's New Horizons mission earned several honors this month for its historic accomplishments.
  • Research Papers in Science Reveal New Aspects of Pluto and Its Moons
    In the March 18 issue of journal Science, New Horizons scientists publish the first comprehensive set of papers describing results from last summer's Pluto system flyby. The papers revealing the former "astronomer's planet" to be a real world with diverse and active geology, exotic surface chemistry, a complex atmosphere, puzzling interaction with the sun and an intriguing system of small moons.
  • What's Eating at Pluto?
    New Horizons scientists have discovered what looks like a giant bite-mark on Pluto's surface.
  • Blog: The Polygons of Pluto
    Undergrad Katie Knight, who works with the New Horizons team to map some of Pluto's unusual terrain, provides some insight into the geological features known as polygonal blocks.
  • Methane Snow on Pluto's Peaks
    The New Horizons team has discovered that a chain of snow-capped mountains stretches across the dark expanse on Pluto informally named Cthulhu Regio.
  • Blog: Where's My Data? Keeping Track of New Horizons' Treasure of Information
    Last summer's historic Pluto flyby generated a wealth of science data, capturing this new world which had never before been explored. Science Operations Team member Emma Birath describes the science of bringing all that data "home" from the New Horizons spacecraft.
  • The Frozen Canyons of Pluto's North Pole
    Data from New Horizons tells yet another story of Pluto's diversity of geological and compositional features-this time in an enhanced color image of the north polar area.
  • Pluto's 'Hulk-like' Moon Charon: A Possible Ancient Ocean?
    Pluto's largest moon may have gotten too big for its own skin. New Horizons images suggest that Charon once had a subsurface ocean that has long since frozen and expanded, pushing out on the moon's surface and causing it to stretch and fracture on a massive scale.
  • Happy Valentine's Day from New Horizons!
    Show how much you care with these special valentines - featuring the solar system's most famous heart!
  • Putting Pluto's Geology on the Map
    The surface of Pluto possesses an astonishing and unexpected geological diversity. New Horizons scientists construct geological maps to help make sense of this complexity and to piece together how Pluto's surface has formed and evolved over time.
  • Pluto's Mysterious, Floating Hills
    The nitrogen ice glaciers on Pluto appear to carry an intriguing cargo: numerous, isolated hills that may be fragments of water ice from Pluto's surrounding uplands. These hills individually measure one to several miles or kilometers across.
  • Blog: Pluto Flyby, through the Eyes of an Early Career Scientist
    Student Dust Counter team member Marcus Piquette recalls the amazement of the New Horizons' Pluto flyby.
  • Winters Named New Horizons Project Manager
    The New Horizons mission has a new project manager; Helene Winters has assumed the role from Glen Fountain.
  • Pluto's Widespread Water Ice
    New data from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft point to more prevalent water ice on Pluto's surface than previously thought.
  • Pluto's Blue Atmosphere in the Infrared
    New Horizons has provided the first look at Pluto's atmosphere in infrared wavelengths, and the first image of the atmosphere made with data from the New Horizons Ralph/LEISA instrument.
  • The Voyage of a Lifetime: New Horizons Marks 10 Years Since Launch
    Ten years ago today one of the great robotic explorers of our age rocketed into the sky above the Florida coastline.
  • Wright's Stuff
    New Horizons scientists have assembled the highest-resolution color view of Wright Mons, one of two potential cryovolcanoes spotted on Pluto's surface.
  • Pluto's Haze in Bands of Blue
    Peer into the blue layers of Pluto's atmosphere in this high-resolution color image constructed from Long Range Reconnaissance Imager and Ralph/Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera data.
  • 'X' Marks a Curious Corner on Pluto's Icy Plains
    "X" marks the spot of some intriguing surface activity in the latest picture of Pluto returned from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft.
  • Particles 'Go with the Flow' on Pluto's Surface
    Scientists from NASA's New Horizons mission have combined data from two instruments to create this composite image of Pluto's informally named Viking Terra area.
  • Looking Back at the "Year of Pluto"
    The New Horizons spacecraft will mark New Year's some 125 million miles beyond Pluto, far removed from the excitement of its historic flight through the Pluto system that made 2015 the year a small world on the planetary frontier captured our hearts.
  • Our 'Annus Mirabilis'
    The year 1905 was said to be Albert Einstein's annus mirabilis - his "miracle year"- in which he published papers that set the stage for modern physics. That phrase comes to the mind of mission Principal Investigator Alan Stern when he thinks of 2015 and New Horizons; it's been our miracle year.
  • Blog: Where Math Meets Pluto
    Mission scientist Orkan Umurhan provides some insight on the work and make-up of the New Horizons Geology and Geophysics Investigation team.
  • New Findings from New Horizons Shape Understanding of Pluto and its Moons
    Five months after NASA's New Horizons spacecraft flew past Pluto to take the first images and measurements of this icy world and its system of satellites, knowledge about this distant system continues to unfold.
  • Pluto's Close-up, Now in Color
    A new enhanced color mosaic combines some of the sharpest views of Pluto that New Horizons obtained during its July 14 flyby.
  • Zooming in on Pluto's Pattern of Pits
    On July 14, the telescopic camera on New Horizons took the highest-resolution images ever obtained of the intricate pattern of pits across a section of Pluto's prominent heart-shaped region.
  • A Distant Close-up: New Horizons' Camera Captures a Wandering KBO
    New Horizons has taken the closest images ever of a distant Kuiper Belt object - demonstrating its ability to observe numerous such bodies over the next several years if NASA approves an extended mission.
  • New Horizons Returns the First of Its Very Best Images of Pluto
    New Horizons has sent back the first few of its sharpest views of Pluto - and the images is image sequence forms the best close-ups of Pluto that humans may see for decades.
  • Blog: Pluto, Closer to Home
    Planetary scientist Veronica Bray says comparing Pluto with other planetary bodies helps her to understand what processes could be operating on Pluto's surface and beneath its icy crust. In particular, a pair of features on Pluto remind her of landforms on Earth and Mars.
  • A Day on Pluto, a Day on Charon
    On approach to the Pluto system in July 2015, the cameras on New Horizons captured Pluto and its moon Charon rotating over the course of a full day.
  • Blog: Radio Signals from Earth Probe Pluto's Atmosphere
    How does New Horizons use radio science to learn about Pluto's atmosphere? Science team member Will Woods writes about his role in this key process.
  • At Pluto, New Horizons Finds Geology of All Ages, Possible Ice Volcanoes, Insight into Planetary Origins
    From possible ice volcanoes to geologically diverse surfaces to oddly behaving moons that could have formed through mergers of smaller moons, Pluto system discoveries continue to surprise scientists on NASA's New Horizons mission team.
  • New Horizons Completes Record-Setting Kuiper Belt Targeting Maneuvers
    New Horizons performed the last in a series of four targeting maneuvers that set it on course for a potential January 2019 encounter with Kuiper Belt Object 2014 MU69.
  • Blog: In the Shadows of Pluto and Charon
    Researcher Josh Kammer – who primarily studies atmospheres – writes that the most exciting observations made by New Horizons this past summer were the solar occultations by Pluto and Charon. Achieving the required alignment of spacecraft, planet and the sun during an occultation was a difficult challenge – especially when there was a significant amount of uncertainty in the exact position of Pluto at the moment of New Horizons' flyby.
  • The Youngest Crater on Charon?
    New Horizons scientists have discovered a striking contrast between one of the fresh craters on Pluto's largest moon Charon and a neighboring crater dotting the moon's Pluto-facing hemisphere.
  • On Track: New Horizons Carries Out Third KBO Targeting Maneuver
    NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has successfully completed the third in a series of four maneuvers propelling it toward an encounter with the ancient Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69, a billion miles farther from the sun than Pluto.
  • New Horizons Continues Toward Potential Kuiper Belt Target
    New Horizons has carried out the second of four planned maneuvers propelling it toward the ancient Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69.
  • New Horizons Team Bids Farewell to Bob Farquhar
    NASA's New Horizons team was saddened by the recent passing of one of its own, Bob Farquhar.
  • Blog: A Planet for All Seasons
    New Horizons science team member Alissa Earle writes about the long-term seasonal variations that may be affecting what we see on Pluto's surface.
  • Maneuver Moves New Horizons toward Next Potential Target
    New Horizons has carried out the first in a series of four initial targeting maneuvers to send it toward a small Kuiper Belt object named 2014 MU69.
  • Last of Pluto's Moons - Mysterious Kerberos - Revealed by New Horizons
    Just-received images of tiny Kerberos complete the family portrait of Pluto's moons.
  • NASA's 'Pluto Time' Connects People with Science
    NASA has unveiled mosaics of Pluto and its largest moon Charon, representing the global response to its popular “#PlutoTime” social media campaign. The Pluto Time concept and widget was developed by the New Horizons science team so that people could experience the approximate sunlight level on Pluto at noon—generally around dawn or dusk on Earth.
  • Science Paper Describes Pluto System Findings
    From Pluto's unusual heart-shaped region to its extended atmosphere and intriguing moons, the New Horizons mission has revealed a degree of diversity and complexity in the Pluto system that few expected.
  • Blog: The Impact of Craters
    Researcher Kelsi Singer writes that impact craters may just look like holes in the ground, but amazingly, they can offer all sorts of clues to a planet's history.
  • New Horizons Finds Blue Skies and Water Ice on Pluto
    The first color images of Pluto's atmospheric hazes, returned by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft last week, reveal that the hazes are blue.
  • Blog: Pluto's Small Moons Nix and Hydra
    New Horizons postdoctoral researcher Simon Porter writes that new images of Pluto's moons remind us Pluto is not just one body, but an entire system of worlds.
  • Charon Reveals a Colorful and Violent History
    New Horizons has returned the best color and the highest resolution images yet of Pluto's largest moon, Charon - and these pictures show a surprisingly complex and violent history.
  • Blog: Pluto at Twilight
    Science team member Alex Parker writes how scientists are working to understand what New Horizons images tell them about the hazes in and dynamics of Pluto's atmosphere.
  • Perplexing Pluto: New 'Snakeskin' Image and More from New Horizons
    The newest high-resolution images of Pluto from New Horizons are both dazzling and mystifying, revealing a multitude of previously unseen topographic and compositional details.
  • Blog: Art Meets Science in New Pluto Aerial Tour
    Science team member Stuart Robbins tells how he created his coolest Pluto flyover video yet.
  • Pluto 'Wows' in Spectacular New Backlit Panorama
    The latest images from New Horizons - with their breathtaking views of Pluto's majestic icy mountains, streams of frozen nitrogen and haunting low-lying hazes - have strangely familiar, arctic look.
  • New Pluto Images from New Horizons: It's Complicated
    New close-up images of Pluto reveal a bewildering variety of surface features that have scientists reeling because of their range and complexity.
  • Blog: Probing the Mystery of Charon's Red Pole
    Researcher Carly Howett is digging into the many different features across the surface of Pluto's largest moon, Charon.
  • New Horizons Begins Intensive Data Downlink Phase
    If you liked the first historic images of Pluto from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, you'll love what's to come. The process of downlinking data all the data from the Pluto flyby moves into high gear on Sept. 5.
  • New Horizons Team Identifies Potential Kuiper Belt Flyby Target
    NASA has selected the potential next destination for the New Horizons mission to visit after its historic July 14 flyby of the Pluto system. The destination is a small Kuiper Belt object (KBO) known as 2014 MU69 that orbits nearly a billion miles beyond Pluto.
  • Blog: Making the Pluto Flyby Movie
    What was it like to fly past Pluto? New Horizons scientist Stuart Robbins explains how he created a true spacecraft's eye view.
  • Scientists Study Nitrogen Provision for Pluto's Atmosphere
    New Horizons data reveals diverse features on Pluto's surface and an atmosphere dominated by nitrogen gas. However, Pluto's small mass allows hundreds of tons of atmospheric nitrogen to escape into space each hour.
  • Atmospheric Escape and Flowing N2 Ice Glaciers - What Resupplies Pluto's Nitrogen?
    Blog post from researcher Kelsi Singer examines the sources of Pluto's nitrogen.
  • Thank You!
    Mission Principal Investigator Alan Stern says "thank you" to the thousands of who congratulated the New Horizons team through the White House website.
  • New Horizons Team Finds Haze, Flowing Ice on Pluto
    Flowing ice and a surprising extended haze are among the newest discoveries from NASA's New Horizons mission, which reveal distant Pluto to be an icy world of wonders.
  • Have a Minute? Get the Video Scoop on New Horizons and Pluto
    If you have a minute, the New Horizons team has the answers to your questions about the first mission to Pluto – thanks to "Pluto in a Minute."
  • New Horizons Finds Second Mountain Range in Pluto's 'Heart'
    A newly discovered mountain range lies near the southwestern margin of Pluto's Tombaugh Regio, situated between bright, icy plains and dark, heavily-cratered terrain.
  • New Horizons 'Captures' Two of Pluto's Smaller Moons
    While Pluto's largest moon, Charon, has grabbed most of the lunar spotlight, two of Pluto's smaller and lesser-known satellites are starting to come into focus via new images from New Horizons.
  • NASA's New Horizons Discovers Frozen Plains in the Heart of Pluto's 'Heart'
    In the latest data from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, a new close-up image of Pluto reveals a vast, craterless plain that appears to be no more than 100 million years old, and is possibly still being shaped by geologic processes. This frozen region is north of Pluto's icy mountains, in the center-left of the heart feature, informally named “Tombaugh Regio” (Tombaugh Region) after Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930.
  • Pluto Wags its Tail
    New Horizons has discovered a region of cold, dense ionized gas tens of thousands of miles beyond Pluto -- the planet's atmosphere being stripped away by the solar wind and lost to space.
  • New Horizons Reveals Pluto's Extended Atmosphere
    Scientists working with NASA's New Horizons spacecraft have observed Pluto's atmosphere as far as 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) above the surface of the planet, demonstrating that Pluto's nitrogen-rich atmosphere is quite extended. This is the first observation of Pluto's atmosphere at altitudes higher than 170 miles above the planet's surface (270 kilometers).
  • NASA to Release New Pluto Images, Science Findings at July 17 NASA TV Briefing
    NASA will hold a media briefing at 1 p.m. EDT Friday, July 17, to reveal new images of Pluto and discuss new science findings from Tuesday's historic flyby.
  • From Mountains to Moons
    Icy mountains on Pluto and a new, crisp view of its largest moon, Charon, are among the several discoveries announced Wednesday by the NASA's New Horizons team, just one day after the spacecraft's first ever Pluto flyby.
  • NASA's New Horizons 'Phones Home' Safe after Pluto Flyby
    The call everyone was waiting for is in. NASA's New Horizons spacecraft phoned home just before 9 p.m. EDT Tuesday to tell the mission team and the world it had accomplished the historic first-ever flyby of Pluto.
  • Pluto and Charon Shine in False Color
    New Horizons has obtained impressive new images of Pluto and its large moon Charon that highlight their compositional diversity. These are not actual color images of Pluto and Charon—they are shown here in exaggerated colors that make it easy to note the differences in surface material and features on each planetary body.
  • NASA's Three-Billion-Mile Journey to Pluto Reaches Historic Encounter
    NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is at Pluto. After a decade-long journey through our solar system, New Horizons made its closest approach to Pluto Tuesday, about 7,750 miles above the surface -- roughly the same distance from New York to Mumbai, India – making it the first-ever space mission to explore a world so far from Earth.
  • New Horizons Spacecraft Displays Pluto's Big Heart
    Three billion miles away, Pluto has sent a “love note” back to Earth, via NASA's New Horizons spacecraft. At about 4 p.m. EDT on July 13 - some 16 hours before closest approach - New Horizons captured this stunning image of one of Pluto's most dazzling and dominant features.
  • How Big Is Pluto? New Horizons Settles Decades-Long Debate
    NASA's New Horizons mission has answered one of the most basic questions about Pluto—its size.Mission scientists have found Pluto to be 1,473 miles (2,370 kilometers) in diameter, somewhat larger than many prior estimates.
  • One Million Miles to Go; Pluto is More Intriguing than Ever
    As NASA's unmanned New Horizons spacecraft speeds closer to a historic July 14 Pluto flyby, it's continuing to multi-task, producing images of an icy world that's growing more fascinating and complex every day.
  • Charon's Chasms and Craters
    New Horizons' newest images reveal Pluto's largest moon Charon to be a world of chasms and craters.
  • The Women who Power NASA's New Horizons Mission to Pluto
    When Fran Bagenal began her career working on NASA's Voyager mission to the outer planets, she was among just a handful of women on the team.
  • New Horizons' Last Portrait of Pluto's Puzzling Spots
    Three billion miles from Earth and just two and a half million miles from Pluto, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has taken its best image of four dark spots that continue to captivate.
  • Pluto by Moonlight
    It's Antarctic winter on Pluto. The sun has not been visible for twenty years in this frigid south polar region; it will not shine again for another 80 years. The only source of natural light is starlight and moonlight from Pluto's largest moon, Charon.
  • Houston, We Have Geology
    It began as a point of light. Then, it evolved into a fuzzy orb. Now - in its latest portrait from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft - Pluto is being revealed as an intriguing new world with distinct surface features, including an immense dark band known as the "whale."
  • The Children of Pluto
    Sometimes it was to gaze upon a planet, and sometimes it was to see a brilliant cluster of stars. If Annette and Alden Tombaugh weren't asleep by the time their father came home from work, chances are he'd have them peer through one of the telescopes in the backyard of their Las Cruces, New Mexico home. "You've got to look at this!" he'd exclaim.
  • Pluto and Charon: New Horizons' Dynamic Duo
    They're a fascinating pair: Two icy worlds, spinning around their common center of gravity like a pair of figure skaters clasping hands. Scientists believe they were shaped by a cosmic collision billions of years ago, and yet, in many ways, they seem more like strangers than siblings.
  • A 'Heart' from Pluto as Flyby Begins
    After a more than nine-year, three-billion-mile journey to Pluto, it's showtime for NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, as the flyby sequence of science observations is officially underway.
  • A Space Physicist's View of Pluto
    Why would a space physicist study Pluto? PEPSSI instrument scientist Matt Hill can't wait to get a look at the energetic particle environment New Horizons expects to encounter.
  • The Whale and the Donut
    A new map gives New Horizons mission scientists an important tool to decipher the complex and intriguing pattern of bright and dark markings on Pluto's surface
  • New Horizons on Track for Pluto Flyby
    The recovery from an anomaly that sent the New Horizons spacecraft into safe mode is proceeding according to plan, with the mission team preparing to return to normal science operations July 7.
  • Latest Views of Pluto
    These are the most recent high-resolution views of Pluto sent by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, including one showing the four mysterious dark spots on Pluto that have captured the imagination of the world.
  • New Horizons Plans July 7 Return to Normal Science Operations
    The New Horizons mission is returning to normal science operations after a July 4 anomaly, and remains on track for its July 14 flyby of Pluto.
  • New Horizons Team Responds to Spacecraft Anomaly
    The New Horizons spacecraft experienced an anomaly this afternoon that led to a loss of communication with Earth. Communication has since been reestablished and the spacecraft is healthy.
  • Pluto and Charon Surfaces in Living Color
    Now playing: The first movie created by New Horizons to reveal color surface features of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon.
  • The 'Other' Red Planet
    What color is Pluto? The answer, revealed in the first maps made from New Horizons data, turns out to be shades of reddish brown.
  • Color Images Reveal Two Distinct Faces of Pluto, Series of Spots that Fascinate
    New color images from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft show two very different faces of the mysterious dwarf planet, one with a series of intriguing spots along the equator that are evenly spaced.
  • NASA's New Horizons Spacecraft Stays the Course to Pluto
    NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is getting a final "all clear" as it speeds closer to its historic July 14 flyby of Pluto and the dwarf planet's five moons.
  • New Horizons 'Speeds Up' on Final Approach to Pluto
    With just two weeks to go before its historic July 14 flight past Pluto, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft tapped the accelerator late last night and tweaked its path toward the Pluto system.
  • Build the Buzz!
    New Horizons is now deep in the encounter, and already seeing just how interesting Pluto and Charon promise to be. Mission PI Alan Stern writes that there's only one Pluto flyby planned in all of history, and it's happening next month!
  • Increasing Variety on Pluto's Close Approach Hemisphere, and a 'Dark Pole' on Charon
    New Horizons doesn't pass Pluto until July 14 - but the mission team is making discoveries as the piano-sized probe bears down on the Pluto system.
  • Exactly 37 Years after Its Discovery, Pluto's Moon Charon Is Being Revealed
    Discovered in 1978, Pluto's moon Charon is about to be revealed in detail by New Horizons. As the spacecraft draws closer by nearly a million miles a day, every observation brings new knowledge about this mysterious moon.
  • Pluto and Charon, Now in Color
    The first color movies from New Horizons show Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, and the complex orbital dance of the two bodies.
  • One Month from Pluto: New Horizons on Track, All Clear, and Ready for Action
    Now within one month of the Pluto flyby, the New Horizons team has executed a course correction, completed updated analyses of hazards near Pluto, and is picking up the pace of science-data collection.
  • Different Faces of Pluto Emerging in New Images from New Horizons
    The surface of Pluto is becoming better resolved as New Horizons spacecraft speeds closer to its July flight through the Pluto system.
  • Hubble Finds Pluto's Moons Tumbling in Absolute Chaos
    Comprehensive analysis of data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope shows that two of Pluto's moons, Nix and Hydra, wobble unpredictably.
  • So Far, All Clear: New Horizons Team Completes First Search for Pluto System Hazards
    The New Horizons team has analyzed the first set of hazard-search images of the Pluto system taken by the approaching spacecraft – and so far, all looks clear for the spacecraft's safe passage.
  • New Horizons Sees More Detail as It Draws Closer to Pluto
    What a difference 20 million miles makes! Images of Pluto from the New Horizons spacecraft are growing in scale as the spacecraft approaches its mysterious target.
  • New Horizons Spots Pluto's Faintest Known Moons
    It's a complete Pluto family photo – or at least a photo of the family members we've already met. Having photographed small, faint moons Kerberos and Styx, New Horizons is now within sight of all the known members of the Pluto system.
  • A Schoolgirl Names Pluto, 85 Years Ago Today
    In 1930, 11-year-old Venetia Burney learned of the newly discovered ninth planet from her grandfather and wondered, "Why not call it Pluto?" The suggestion caught on, and became solar system history.
  • New Horizons Detects Surface Features, Possible Polar Cap on Pluto
    For the first time, images from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft are revealing bright and dark regions on the surface of faraway Pluto - the primary target of the New Horizons close flyby in mid-July.
  • New Horizons' Student Instrument Turning Deep Space Dust to Data about Pluto's Environment
    Know how college students barely sleep? The science instrument on New Horizons built by University of Colorado students - the aptly named Student Dust Counter (or SDC) - shares that habit.
  • NASA's New Horizons Nears Historic Encounter with Pluto
    New Horizons' flight through the Pluto system in July will complete the initial reconnaissance of the classical solar system, while opening the door to a new zone of mysterious small planets and planetary building blocks in the Kuiper Belt.
  • Capstone: 2015
    On July 14, New Horizons will make its closest approach to Pluto and its system of moons. In a cosmic coincidence, that will occur 50 years to the day after the historic first flyby of Mars, on July 14, 1965!
  • NASA Hosts Briefings on Historic Mission to Pluto
    NASA TV will air media briefings at 1 p.m. EDT and 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 14, to discuss plans and related upcoming activities about the agency's historic New Horizons spacecraft flyby of Pluto.
  • Inside 100 Days to the Historic First Exploration of Pluto, New Horizons Set to Deliver
    Speeding toward a historic flyby on July 14, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has moved into the second phase of its approach to Pluto and its moons.
  • NASA Extends Campaign for Public to Name Features on Pluto
    The public has until Friday, April 24, to help name new features on Pluto and its orbiting satellites as they are discovered by NASA's New Horizons mission.
  • Google+ Hangout on Pluto Studies
    The New Horizons team talks the history and future of Pluto science in Google Hangout at 1 p.m. (EDT) on April 3.
  • New Horizons Sampling 'Space Weather' on Approach to Pluto
    As New Horizons approaches the Pluto system, space plasma instruments have already been taking measurements and assessing the space weather environment in the Kuiper Belt near Pluto.
  • A Record Day for New Horizons
    After more than nine years in space, on a voyage taking it farther to its primary destination than any mission before it, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is closer to Pluto than the Earth is to the Sun.
  • With Trajectory Correction, NASA's New Horizons Homes in on Pluto
    A 93-second thruster burst today slightly adjusted the New Horizons spacecraft's trajectory toward Pluto.
  • Why Pluto?
    New Horizons Co-Investigator William McKinnon writes that the revelation of the Kuiper Belt is one of the most significant advances in planetary science in the last 30 years. We're going to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt to unlock the secrets of the solar system's third zone.
  • Pluto Science, on the Surface
    How will New Horizons study Pluto's geology and surface composition? Principal Investigator Alan Stern lays out the plans to shed light on this deep space mystery.
  • How Big Is Pluto's Atmosphere?
    Just how big is Pluto's atmosphere? Science Team Co-Investigator Michael Summers says New Horizons will answer that question (and many others) during the Pluto system encounter in July.
  • 85 Years after Pluto's Discovery, New Horizons Spots Small Moons Orbiting Pluto
    Exactly 85 years after Clyde Tombaugh's historic discovery of Pluto, the NASA spacecraft set to encounter the icy planet this summer is providing its first views of the small moons orbiting Pluto.
  • The View from New Horizons: A Full Day on Pluto-Charon
    In new movies crafted from New Horizons images, watch Charon circle Pluto over a full day.
  • Happy Birthday Clyde Tombaugh: New Horizons Returns New Images of Pluto
    Pluto discoverer Clyde Tombaugh could only dream of a spacecraft flying past the small planet he spotted on the edges of the solar system in 1930. Yet the newest views from New Horizons – released today, on the late American astronomer's birthday – hint at just how close that dream is to coming true.
  • Google+ Hangout on Solar System Science Education, Jan. 28
    Educators: Join PBS LearningMedia and the New Horizons mission for a Google+ Hangout at 7 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Jan. 28, for a look at what lies ahead for solar system science, with a focus on helping your curriculum stay up-to-date in this exciting time for space exploration. Presenters include Jeff Moore, New Horizons Science Team co-investigator from NASA Ames Research Center.
  • Something Special in the Air
    The earliest stages of our Pluto encounter have begun, and New Horizons remains healthy and on course. Looking ahead, Principal Investigator Alan Stern previews the atmospheric science New Horizons will conduct during its flight through the Pluto system.
  • New Horizons Begins First Stages of Pluto Encounter
    The New Horizons spacecraft has begun its long-awaited, historic encounter with Pluto, entering the first of several approach phases that will culminate with the first close-up flyby of the Pluto system six months from now.
  • It's Pluto Eve!
    New Horizons has been awake from hibernation since early December and is now in the earliest stages of Pluto approach. As 2014 ends and 2015 begins, PI Alan Stern is reminded of something science team member Rick Binzel said a while back: "It's Pluto Eve!"
  • Great Expectations
    For scientist Dennis Reuter, the likelihood of finding something new in data from New Horizons' Ralph imaging instrument – which will allow us to "see" things as if we ourselves were at Pluto – is beyond exciting.
  • On the Eve of Encounter: New Horizons at AGU
    After nine years and three billion miles in flight, it's "mission on" for New Horizons. In a webcast workshop, team members previewed the upcoming Pluto encounter at the American Geophysical Union Fall meeting on Dec. 18.
  • Catch New Horizons Team on Google+
    Principal Investigator Alan Stern joins six science team post-docs to talk New Horizons in Google+ Hangout today at 4 pm EST.
  • On Pluto's Doorstep, NASA's New Horizons Spacecraft Awakens for Encounter
    After a voyage of nearly nine years and three billion miles - the farthest any space mission has ever traveled to reach its primary target - NASA's New Horizons spacecraft came out of hibernation today for its long-awaited 2015 encounter with the Pluto system.
  • Planetary Society Webcast of New Horizons Wake-Up
    New Horizons team members scheduled to join Planetary Society host Mat Kaplan on a YouTube webcast covering the spacecraft's final exit from hibernation on Dec. 6, from 9-10 p.m. EST.
  • Waking Up on Pluto's Doorstep
    After almost nine years of flight, New Horizons is literally on Pluto's doorstep. PI Alan Stern anticipates the spacecraft's wake-up this week from its final hibernation period - and offers a chance to vote for the official New Horizons wake-up graphic!
  • Staring at the Sun
    We've all been told not to stare at the Sun. But scientist Joel Parker writes that we not only allow New Horizons' Alice instrument to stare directly at the Sun - we encourage it!
  • Pluto's Exotic Chemistry
    Pluto is a Kuiper Belt chemistry lab - a world with a surface dominated by solid nitrogen, carbon compounds, and radiation-chemical products unlike any planet yet visited - and scientist Reggie Hudson can't wait to study it.
  • New Horizons Set to Wake Up for Pluto Encounter
    The New Horizons spacecraft comes out of hibernation for the last time on Dec. 6. Between now and then, while the Pluto-bound probe enjoys three more weeks of electronic slumber, work on Earth is well under way to prepare the spacecraft for a six-month encounter with the dwarf planet that begins in January.
  • Peering into Planetary Atmospheres
    New Horizons will use its radio equipment to reveal previously unknown properties of Pluto's atmosphere, writes Co-Investigator David Hinson, enriching our understanding of planetary atmospheres across the solar system.
  • KBO Hunting: How Hubble Rescued New Horizons
    In his latest PI Perspective blog entry, Alan Stern recounts the hunt for a potential, post-Pluto Kuiper Belt flyby target for New Horizons - and tells how the Hubble Space Telescope came through for a dedicated search team.
  • Eyes on Pluto's Ices
    Deputy Project Scientist Cathy Olkin has an interest in Pluto's surface ices - and says that by looking at the different infrared wavelengths of reflected sunlight from Pluto, you can learn about the amounts and distribution of those ices.
  • It's Just a Phase: Changes on Pluto's Surface
    Like water freezing into ice or heating into steam, the materials on Pluto's surface -; nitrogen, methane and carbon monoxide - undergo phase changes. New Horizons Co-Investigator Will Grundy explains the processes behind this activity and its effects on the small planet.
  • Today: Ask New Horizons Anything
    Join New Horizons PI Alan Stern and other science team members for a reddit "Ask Me Anything" session on Oct. 6 at 1 p.m. EDT.
  • How Big Is Pluto?
    We know the general range of Pluto's diameter, but one of the easiest measurements New Horizons will make is to tell us, finally, Pluto's real size. Mission Co-I Marc Buie explains how scientists have gauged Pluto's size so far and why they care about how big the small planet really is.
  • Rings and Other Solar System Surprises
    Mark Showalter is an expert in planetary rings and small moons, but the discovery of rings around a large asteroid last year reminded him that the solar system still holds plenty of surprises.
  • One Last Slumber
    New Horizons has entered hibernation for the last time, and the final, short leg of its cruise to Pluto is actually upon us. PI Alan Stern writes about the busy summer leading up to the spacecraft's latest slumber, and the excitement of preparing to explore the Pluto system.
  • Hello Hydra!
    New Horizons made its first detection of Pluto's small, faint, outermost known moon, Hydra. The images were taken to practice the methods the mission team will use to search for additional moons and potentially hazardous debris near Pluto next year.
  • Awaiting New Results on Pluto's Atmosphere
    What is Pluto's atmosphere really like? Co-Investigator Randy Gladstone has been wondering about that for decades - and is excited to know that we'll learn a whole lot more after New Horizons visits Pluto in summer 2015.
  • Pluto's Complex Chemistry
    What is Pluto made of? With telescopes we have discovered that Pluto's surface is covered by several kinds of ice, and science team co-investigator Dale Cruikshank writes that New Horizons will shed even more light on Pluto's complex chemistry.
  • New Horizons Commanded into Last Pre-Pluto Slumber
    Following a successful summer systems checkout, New Horizons has entered hibernation – its final hibernation period on the flight to Pluto.
  • What Will It Mean to See Pluto?
    We're less than a year from seeing Pluto up close for the first time. New Horizons Science Team Co-Investigator Don Jennings asks: Will our feelings toward Pluto change when we finally see what it really looks like?
  • New Horizons Crosses Neptune Orbit En Route to Historic Pluto Encounter
    The New Horizons spacecraft has traversed the orbit of Neptune - its last major crossing en route to becoming the first probe to make a close encounter with distant Pluto on July 14, 2015. The milestone matches precisely the 25th anniversary of the historic encounter of NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft with Neptune on Aug. 25, 1989.
  • New Horizons Event on Aug. 25 Marks Neptune Orbit Crossing, Connections to Voyager
    New Horizons passes the orbit of Neptune on Aug. 25 - on the exact 25th anniversary of the Voyager 2 spacecraft's encounter with Neptune in 1989. NASA will hold a two-part science event for the public to learn about the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the spacecraft's connection to Voyager's historic visit to Neptune.
  • My Family Planet
    Some people have a favorite planet, but how many have a "family" planet? New Horizons Deputy Project Scientist Leslie Young writes about the special place Pluto holds in her family.
  • A Pluto Preview? Scientists Create New Triton Map
    "Restored" Voyager footage has been used to construct the best global color map of Neptune's moon Triton. Production of the map was inspired by anticipation of New Horizons' Pluto encounter; Pluto is unlikely to be a copy of Triton, but some of the same types of features may be present.
  • From Pinpoint of Light to a Geologic World
    New Horizons Science Team Co-investigator Bonnie Buratti has been studying Pluto as a pinpoint of light for more than 25 years. And while you can learn a lot by looking at Pluto through a telescope, she writes, it will be so exciting to see this little white dot turn into a geologic world.
  • Where Is Pluto?
    New Horizons has traveled (nearly) nine long years to get across the solar system to check out Pluto - and Science Team member Marc Buie writes that it's actually harder than you might think to make sure that Pluto will be there to greet us at the end of our journey.
  • New Horizons Spies Charon Orbiting Pluto
    Like explorers of old peering through a shipboard telescope for a faint glimpse of their destination, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is taking a distant look at the Pluto system - in preparation for its historic encounter with the planet and its moons next summer.
  • Discoveries and Mysteries
    Galileo turned his telescope to the heavens to spot craters on the moon, the moons of Jupiter, and the rings of Saturn. Science Team member Richard Binzel writes that those findings transformed our view of the solar system - and New Horizons could be similarly transformational.
  • Putting It All Together
    Project Scientist Hal Weaver says he's looking forward to the remarkable discoveries New Horizons will provide on the properties of Pluto and its moons - but the scientific implications of these results will go well beyond what we'll learn specifically about the Pluto system.
  • New Horizons Marks a 'Year Out' with a Successful Course Correction
    New Horizons performed a slight course correction on July 14, a short maneuver designed to correct the spacecraft's arrival time at Pluto a year from now.
  • Annual Checkout Makes for Great Pluto Preparation
    In the first of a new series of blogs from the New Horizons science team, Deputy Project Scientist Kim Ennico writes how the annual checkout may not be the Pluto flyby, but this summer's data will play a big role in next year's science returns.
  • Hubble Proceeds with Full Search for Kuiper Belt Targets
    The Hubble Space Telescope has been given the go-ahead to conduct an intensive search for a suitable Kuiper Belt object that New Horizons could visit after the probe streaks though the Pluto system in July 2015.
  • What If Voyager Had Explored Pluto?
    If Voyager 1 had been sent to Pluto, it would have arrived in the spring of 1986. With New Horizons headed toward a 2015 rendezvous with Pluto, mission PI Alan Stern wonders what we might have found almost 30 years ago had Voyager 1 - rather than New Horizons - been first to the distant world.
  • Final 'Pre-Pluto' Annual Checkout Begins
    New Horizons' annual checkout - its eighth since launch and last before next year's rendezvous with Pluto - kicks off with some onboard subsystem housekeeping and navigation-tracking tasks. But the pace picks up soon enough with a slate of operations that carries through summer.
  • NASA Hubble to Search Beyond Pluto for a New Horizons Mission Target
    The Hubble Space Telescope Time Allocation Committee has recommended using Hubble to search for an object New Horizons could visit after its flyby of Pluto in 2015.
  • Childhood's End
    New Horizons is about to emerge from its next-to-last hibernation period, and the mission team is increasingly turning its attention to the encounter that begins early next year. New Horizons PI Alan Stern writes about the full slate of activities planned over the next few months.
  • Assessing Pluto from Afar
    The New Horizons team has kicked off its Earth-based Observation Campaign, an opportunity for astronomers around the globe to observe Pluto while New Horizons approaches and passes it.
  • Educator Workshop Set for April 26
    NASA's Discovery workshops delve into the stories behind some amazing missions - offering educators a chance to learn how scientists, engineers and mission operators collaborate to meet mission goals. New Horizons is among the missions featured in the next workshop, "The Scale of Discovery," on April 26.
  • Thanks America, New Horizons Ahead
    New Horizons sailed past another deep-space milepost today when the spacecraft moved to within four astronomical units of its prime target, Pluto.
  • New Horizons Reaches the Final 4 (au)
    New Horizons sailed past another deep-space milepost today when the spacecraft moved to within four astronomical units of its prime target, Pluto.
  • A Busy Year Begins for New Horizons
    With Pluto encounter operations now just a year away, the New Horizons team has brought the spacecraft out of hibernation for the first of several activities planned for 2014.
  • On Video: How Do We Get to Pluto? Practice, Practice, Practice
    The Pluto flyby will be like the Super Bowl of space science - and you don't walk into the big game without practice. We close out the year with a video look at the biggest New Horizons activity of 2013: the full-up dress rehearsal for the Pluto encounter.
  • A Model Spacecraft
    With the real spacecraft closing in on Pluto, a drive is under way to make a smaller version of New Horizons available closer to home.
  • On the Path to Pluto, 5 AU and Closing
    Pluto isn't quite the next exit on New Horizons' voyage through the outer solar system, but the destination is definitely getting closer. Today the NASA spacecraft speeds to within five astronomical units (au) of Pluto - which is less than five times the distance between the Earth and the sun.
  • The Sounds of New Horizons
    If New Horizons could talk, our Pluto-bound spacecraft would sound something like this "tune" members of the mission communications team created from actual ranging signals that New Horizons traded with NASA Deep Space Network receiving stations.
  • Late in Cruise, and a Binary Ahoy
    New Horizons has just completed a summer of intensive activities and entered hibernation on Aug. 20. The routine parts of the activities included thorough checkouts of all our backup systems (result: they work fine!) and of all our scientific instruments (they work fine too!). We also updated our onboard fault protection (a.k.a. "autonomy") software, collected interplanetary cruise science data, and tracked the spacecraft for hundreds of hours to improve our trajectory knowledge. Added to this mix of routine summer wake-up activities for New Horizons were two major activities that had never been performed before.
  • Pluto Science Conference Exceeds Expectations
    Compressing eight decades of discoveries into five days, scientists met July 22-26 to talk everything Pluto - what we already know, what we'd like to know, and what data we expect New Horizons spacecraft to deliver in 2015.
  • Charon Revealed!
    New Horizons' highest-resolution telescopic camera has spotted Pluto's moon Charon for the first time - beginning, in a sense, the mission's long-range study of the Pluto system.
  • Celebrating 35 Years of Charon
    New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern looks back on the summer 1978 discovery of Charon - and looks ahead to the mission's flight past Pluto's largest and "first" moon.
  • Kerberos and Styx: Welcome to the Pluto System!
    Pluto's two smallest and "newest" moons now have their official names. Kerberos and Styx join previously known moons Charon, Nix and Hydra.
  • New Horizons Team Sticking to Original Flight Plan at Pluto
    Unless significant new hazards are found, expect NASA's New Horizons spacecraft to stay on its original course past Pluto and its moons, after mission managers concluded that the danger posed by dust and debris in the Pluto system is less than they once feared.
  • Encounter Planning Accelerates
    The New Horizons team has spent much of past year looking hard at the potential impact hazards its spacecraft could face during the 2015 flight through the Pluto system; mission Principal Investigator Alan Stern offers an update on plans to protect New Horizons, as well as a preview of this summer's encounter rehearsal activities.
  • Pluto Moons: The Votes Are In
    The public has spoken, choosing candidate names for Pluto's newest and smallest moons. "Vulcan" and "Cerberus" topped the list after more than 450,000 total votes were cast.
  • Help Name Pluto's New Moons
    The discoverers of "P4" and "P5" are inviting the public to help select permanent names for Pluto's newest and smallest moons. Like Pluto's three other moons - Charon, Nix and Hydra - they need to be assigned names derived from Greek or Roman mythology. Voting ends Feb. 25.
  • The Seven-Year Itch
    After seven years in flight -- longer than many science missions operate - the New Horizons team can feel that the Pluto encounter is almost around the corner. Mission Principal Investigator Alan Stern writes that there's an increased pace of activity, a sense of anticipation, and a palpable thirst for the images and other data the team will soon have.
  • New Horizons Gets a New Year's Workout
    Like many of us, New Horizons is starting the new year with a workout regimen. After six months of cruising quietly through the outer solar system, NASA's Pluto-bound spacecraft has entered three weeks of activity that include system checks, a new flight software upload and science data downloads.
  • Halfway Between Uranus and Neptune, New Horizons Cruises On
    Today the New Horizons spacecraft passed the halfway point between the orbits of Uranus and Neptune, zooming past another milepost on its historic trek to the planetary frontier.
  • New Horizons on Planetary Radio
    His mission to Pluto and beyond is just the start. New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern is the PI for other missions and instruments in space. The former Associate Administrator of NASA's Science Directorate is a Vice President at the Southwest Research Institute. He tells us that all's well, but New Horizons is preparing for a possibly bumpy visit to Pluto. Alan also extends a special invitation to Planetary Radio listeners as he explains Uwingu, his new company that will raise funds for space science by allowing anyone to propose and vote for new planet names. Bill Nye wonders with the rest of us what Curiosity scientists have found on Mars, while Emily shares a beautiful new landscape captured by the big rover. Bruce Betts extends a couple of invites of his own on What's Up: A new round of Shoemaker Near Earth Object grants, and your chance to entertain Bruce and Mat with your guess of what Curiosity has found.
  • At Pluto, Moons and Debris May Be Hazardous to New Horizons
    As New Horizons has traveled through space, its science team has become increasingly aware of the possibility that dangerous debris may be orbiting in the Pluto system, putting the spacecraft and its exploration objectives into harm's way.
  • The Kuiper Belt at 20
    Twenty years after astronomers spied the first Kuiper Belt Object (outside of the Pluto system), New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern examines how additional discoveries in the belt have dramatically changed our view of the solar system.
  • Online: New Horizons PI Talks Pluto
    New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern is scheduled to appear on the "Virtually Speaking Science" program tonight with Science Editor Alan Boyle at 9 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. PDT).
  • All Aboard: Fly New Horizons through the Kuiper Belt!
    A new computer simulation from NASA's New Horizons mission offers a look at the latest objects discovered in the distant Kuiper Belt - from the vantage point of the Pluto-bound spacecraft itself.
  • Gimme Five!
    A team of astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is reporting the discovery of another moon orbiting the icy dwarf planet Pluto. The moon is estimated to be irregular in shape and 6 to 15 miles across. It is in a 58,000-mile-diameter circular orbit around Pluto that is assumed to be co-planar with the other satellites in the system.
  • New Horizons Doing Science in Its Sleep
    New Horizons will start collecting data on interplanetary space during its long hibernation periods on the way to Pluto, gathering new information in a region of space that's rarely visited by spacecraft.
  • It's a Sim: Out in Deep Space, New Horizons Successfully Practices the 2015 Pluto Encounter
    The Pluto system was still about three years and 850 million miles away. But on May 29-30, the New Horizons spacecraft "thought" it was July 14, 2015, and carried out the most intense segment of its Pluto flyby as part of the mission's first onboard encounter simulation.
  • Extending Our Horizons
    New Horizons is healthy and on course for an encounter with Pluto in July 2015. But what's in store for the mission after the historic flight through the Pluto system? Principal Investigator Alan Stern offers a look at how the mission team plans to explore other objects in the ancient Kuiper Belt.
  • New Horizons Stamp Drive Completes a 10K - and Keeps Going!
    As fast as New Horizons is heading toward Pluto, the drive to honor this historic exploration of the ninth planet is speeding toward its finish. Less than a week remains to put your name on the petition supporting an effort for the U.S. Postal Service to commemorate Pluto and New Horizons on a postage stamp.
  • 'A Vision of Discovery' Educator Workshop: March 10
    Learn more about the New Horizons mission as well as others in NASA's Discovery and New Frontiers programs. The "Vision of Discovery" workshop, set for March 10, is being held at four locations across the country and via webinar. Deadline to register March 5th.
  • New Horizons on Approach: 22 AU Down, Just 10 to Go
    Few spacecraft travel 10 astronomical units during their entire mission. But with New Horizons already logging more than twice that distance on its way to Pluto, coming to within 10 AU of its main target is akin to entering the home stretch.
  • New Horizons Aims to Put Its Stamp on History
    New Horizons' flight to explore the Pluto system in July 2015 will be a historic accomplishment for the U.S. space program, for planetary science, and indeed for all humankind.
  • New Horizons Works through Winter Wakeup
    New Horizons might be more than two billion miles from home, but the spacecraft has spent most of the new year at the fingertips of its operators.
  • Late Cruise!
    New Horizons remains healthy and on course, now more than 23 times as far from the Sun as the Earth is. We will be 32.9 times as far from the Sun as the Earth is when we reach Pluto in three years, in the summer of 2015, so we're now about 70 percent of the way there.
  • New Horizons Team Remembers Patsy Tombaugh
    The New Horizons team mourns Patsy Tombaugh - widow of Pluto's discoverer, Clyde Tombaugh - who died Jan. 12 in Las Cruces, N.M.
  • Evidence of Complex Molecules Found on Pluto
    Even from afar, Pluto gets more and more interesting. Using the Hubble Space Telescope, researchers have discovered a strong ultraviolet-wavelength absorber on Pluto's surface - providing new evidence of complex hydrocarbon and /or nitrile molecules lying on the surface.
  • New Horizons Becomes Closest Spacecraft to Approach Pluto
    After nearly six years of high-speed flight, New Horizons reached a special milestone today on its way to reconnoiter the Pluto system: coming closer to Pluto than any other spacecraft.
  • Is the Pluto System Dangerous?
    With the discovery of yet another moon around Pluto, mission PI Alan Stern takes on a question the team is hearing more often: "Is the Pluto system dangerous to New Horizons?"
  • On the Path to Pluto: New Horizons App Now Available
    The team behind NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt has launched a free app that takes iPhone and iPad users along on this historic voyage to the planetary frontier.
  • Visiting Four Moons, in Just Four Years, for All Mankind
    New Horizons remains healthy and on course, now approximately 21 times as far from the Sun as the Earth is - well on its way, between the orbits of Uranus and Neptune.
  • Remembering New Horizons Co-Investigator Dr. David Charles Slater, August 12, 1957 - May 30, 2011
    I have written here more than once that on long space missions like New Horizons, mission teams form family-like bonds. Well, on May 30, the New Horizons family lost one of our own, co-investigator and friend, Dr. Dave Slater, of the Southwest Research Institute.
  • View from the Summit: Hunting for KBOs at the Top of the World
    I would like to tell you a bit about our recent Kuiper Belt object search observing run on the Subaru telescope on Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii, one of a dozen or so KBO search runs we're doing this year. But first, I want to thank everyone who's helping out with the crucial task of sorting through our terabytes of data for those elusive KBOs, using the Ice Hunters site! It's amazing the effort people are putting into this, and I hope we can all reap the rewards sometime in the coming decade, when we get mankind's first look at one of the typical members of the Kuiper Belt.
  • Fourth Moon Adds to Pluto's Appeal
    On the anniversary of the first landing of men on our moon, New Horizons mission team scientists have announced the discovery of a fourth moon around Pluto - adding to the scientific treasure trove that awaits NASA's Pluto-bound New Horizons when it arrives in 2015.
  • New Horizons Scientists Tracking Pluto
    New Horizons scientists Leslie Young and Cathy Olkin are among astronomers making "occultation" measurements of the Pluto system this week. By watching Pluto and its moons cross between Earth and a star, the team can measure the atmosphere on Pluto, and the sizes and positions of its airless moons. Follow their expedition on this National Geographic blog.
  • New Horizons Educator Fellows Trained to Bring the Solar System to Your Community
    The New Horizons Educator Fellows took part in a training workshop from June 21-23, 2011, at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab in Maryland.
  • Citizen Scientists: Discover a New Horizons Flyby Target!
    The world is invited to help discover a potential new, icy follow-on Kuiper Belt destination for NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, using the website.
  • Wanted: Kuiper Belt Targets
    The New Horizons team, working with astronomers using some of the largest telescopes on Earth, will begin searching this month for distant Kuiper Belt objects that the New Horizons spacecraft hopes to reconnoiter after completing its observations of the Pluto system in mid-2015.
  • Pinch Me!
    As we continue that journey through 2011, there's much more going on than just mileage markers and planet crossings. Our next big milestone is a nearly two-month-long annual wakeup of our spacecraft from hibernation that begins May 9 and concludes July 1.
  • Forensic Sleuthing Ties Ring Ripples to Impacts
    Like forensic scientists examining fingerprints at a cosmic crime scene, scientists working with data from NASA's New Horizons, Cassini and Galileo missions have traced telltale ripples in the rings of Saturn and Jupiter back to collisions with cometary fragments dating back more than 10 years ago.
  • Later, Uranus: New Horizons Passes Another Planetary Milestone
    New Horizons is ready to put another planet - or at least the planet's orbit - in its rearview mirror. The Pluto-bound spacecraft crosses the path of Uranus around 6 p.m. EDT on March 18, more than 1.8 billion miles from Earth.
  • Launch Plus Five Years: A Ways Traveled, a Ways to Go
  • Ten Years On
    Well, 10 years ago, on Dec. 19, 2000, NASA announced that it would conduct a competition for a PI-led mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. At the time, I'd been involved in leading NASA's science working group for just such a mission, and I had led a successful proposal to build a complete suite of science instruments for the mission. So, almost immediately upon NASA's announcement, colleagues asked me to lead a Pluto-Kuiper Belt mission proposal.
  • A Toast to New Horizons
    New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern celebrates the mission's latest milestones with the family of Pluto's discoverer, Clyde Tombaugh.
  • Where Is the New Horizons Centaur Stage?
    When New Horizons launched nearly five years ago, its first Atlas V stage and solid rocket boosters fell back to Earth within minutes of launch. The third stage solid-rocket motor followed the spacecraft out of Earth orbit. But what became of the Centaur second stage New Horizons left behind?
  • Reaching the Mid-Mission Milestone on the Way to Pluto!
    On October 17, New Horizons passed the halfway mark in the number of days from launch to Pluto encounter - the last of the mission's halfway points on the way to Pluto. In his latest Web posting, Principal Investigator Alan Stern takes a look at this milestone and a few other significant mission events.
  • Student Dust Counter instrument breaks distance record
    The Venetia Burney Student Dust Counter on New Horizons now holds the record for the most distant- functioning space dust detector.
  • Picture-Perfect Pluto Practice
    Neptune's giant moon Triton is often called Pluto's "twin" - so what better practice target, then, for New Horizons' telescopic camera? The Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) took aim at Neptune during the latest annual systems checkout.
  • LORRI Looks Back at "Old Friend" Jupiter
    In early 2007 New Horizons flew through the Jupiter system, getting a speed-boost from the giant planet's gravity while snapping stunning, close-up images of Jupiter and its largest moons. Three years later, New Horizons has given us another glimpse of Jupiter, this time from a vantage point more than 16 times the distance between Earth and the Sun, and nearly 1,000 times as far away as when the probe reconnoitered Jupiter.
  • Five Years and Counting Down
    Five years ago, the New Horizons spacecraft was in a thermal-vacuum chamber at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Maryland, being tested for our historic voyage to the planetary frontier. Today our intrepid probe is a billion kilometers past Saturn - and exactly five years away from closest Pluto approach on Jul 14, 2015.
  • Course Correction Keeps New Horizons on Path to Pluto
    A short but important course-correction maneuver keeps New Horizons on track to reach the "aim point"for its 2015 encounter with Pluto.
  • Check it Out: System Tests, Science Observations and a Course Correction
    New Horizons' fourth annual checkout is nearing its mid-point, and continues with a workout for the spacecraft systems, cameras and other instruments that will deliver the first data from Pluto and its moons. Preparations for a small but necessary course-correction maneuver are also on track.
  • Ever Farther Across the Ocean of Space to a Distant and Unknown Shore
    Principal Investigator (A. Stern) writes that all systems are "go" on New Horizons as it speeds along the vast ocean of space, and the mission team prepares for the annual spacecraft checkout.
  • Nix and Hydra: Five Years After Discovery
    Five years after the discovery of Nix and Hydra, scientists are meeting in Baltimore to discuss Pluto's "new" moons as part of the planning for New Horizons' 2015 reconnaissance of the Pluto system. Participants in the Nix-Hydra workshop, May 11-12 at the Space Telescope Science Institute, will focus on the moons in context of Pluto formation, Kuiper Belt Object analog bodies, and the general topic of KBO satellites. Check out the workshop Web site ( the live conference stream ( To watch you will need Flash or Windows Media Player.)
  • New Horizons Team Sees 'Opportunity' for Public Engagement
    Unmanned gives its first "Opportunity Award" for public engagement to John Spencer and the New Horizons Jupiter Flyby Planning Team, for seeking and using public suggestions for Kodak-moment imaging opportunities during the New Horizons flyby of Jupiter.
  • New Horizons, Pluto Featured on NOVA
    The New Horizons mission has a role in a special NOVA program on the mission's target planet. 'The Pluto Files' airs on PBS tonight, Tuesday, March 2, at 8 p.m. EST.
  • The Approach Begins
    Another milestone passed! New Horizons is halfway between Earth and Pluto. "From here on out, we're on approach to an encounter with the Pluto system," says New Horizons Principal Investigator (A. Stern).
  • 80 Years of Pluto
    On February 18, 1930, while examining photographic plates of the sky, American astronomer Clyde Tombaugh saw a tiny spot of light moving slowly against the fixed pattern of stars in the constellation Gemini: it was Pluto. Read more about man who found the ninth planet and the events that led to his discovery of a whole new class of planetary object.
  • New Hubble Maps of Pluto Show Surface Changes
    NASA today released the most detailed set of images ever taken of Pluto. The images taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope show an icy and dark molasses-colored, mottled world that is undergoing seasonal changes in its surface color and brightness. The images are invaluable to planning the details of the New Horizons flyby in 2015.
  • Coming Soon: New Views of Pluto
    NASA will hold a news telecon at 1 p.m. (EST) on Thuday, Feb. 4, to discuss the latest Hubble images of Pluto. These detailed images will help astronomers better interpret more than three decades of Pluto observations from other telescopes.
  • Four Years and Counting
    NASA's New Horizons mission team marks four years of flight today and their Pluto-bound spacecraft is sleeping right through the celebration.
  • New Horizons Crosses a Threshold: Closer to Pluto than Earth
    The new year approaches with New Horizons zooming past another milestone: the NASA spacecraft is now closer to target planet Pluto than its home planet, Earth.
  • Farewell 2009
    New Horizons is now more than 1,400 days into its 9.5-year journey and well past 15 AU (astronomical units) from the Sun. We still have about 2,050 days ahead of us before we reach the Pluto system, but on Dec. 29, we'll reach the first of several midway milestones. As the graph below shows, New Horizons will be closer to Pluto (the red line) than to Earth (the blue curve). This marker puts a nice capstone on 2009, during which we moved another 500 million kilometers closer to our favorite planet, so far against the deep.
  • New Horizons Roused for Long-Distance Checkup
    Call it a burst of activity between naps: the New Horizons team woke its Pluto-bound spacecraft from hibernation this week for some onboard housekeeping.
  • New Horizons Hits Halfway Mark Between Saturn, Uranus Orbits
    New Horizons sails silently today through another milestone on the way to its historic reconnaissance of the Pluto system, reaching the halfway point between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus.
  • Science Never Sleeps
    Mission Principal Investigator (A. Stern) reviews the last spacecraft checkout, and offers a brief look at what's in store for the New Horizons team (and spacecraft) this fall.
  • New Horizons Checks Out, Enters Hibernation
    The New Horizons mission team has closed out a successful summer workout, putting its Pluto-bound spacecraft back into hibernation Aug. 27 after seven weeks of functional tests and system checks.
  • A Summer's Work, Far From Home
    The work is fun, no doubt there; but it never ends on this mission of exploration particularly in the summer, when we conduct our annual spacecraft checkouts.
  • Rise and Shine: New Horizons Wakes for Annual Checkout
    New Horizons is up from the longest nap of its cruise to Pluto, as operators "woke" the spacecraft from hibernation yesterday for its annual series of checkouts and tests.
  • Ever Plan Ahead? How About Six Years Ahead?
    The way the New Horizons team sees it, it's never too early to plan ahead. Principal Investigator (A. Stern) describes the team's intense work to design every step of the Pluto encounter - even though the spacecraft is more than six years and just over 18 astronomical units from the Pluto system.
  • New Horizons Team Remembers Venetia Phair, the 'Girl Who Named Pluto'
    The New Horizons team is fondly remembering Venetia Burney Phair, the "little girl" who named Pluto in 1930. Mrs. Phair died April 30 at her home in Epsom, England, at age 90. "Venetia's interest and success in naming Pluto as a schoolgirl caught the attention of the world and earned her a place in the history of planetary astronomy that lives on," says New Horizons Principal Investigator (A. Stern).
  • NASA Mission Madness: Send New Horizons to the Title Game!
    New Horizons has mounted some impressive wins en route to the Final Four of NASA's "Mission Madness" tournament, but its next battle will be its toughest: a face-off against the Super-Pressure Balloon, the top vote-getter in each in the previous four rounds. Help send New Horizons to the NASA championship! Visit the tournament site on April 2-3 and cast your votes for the first mission to Pluto!
  • One-Third Down
    On the mission flight-time calendar, New Horizons is exactly one-third of the way through its journey to Pluto. New Horizons Principal Investigator (A. Stern) provides a mission update and ponders something for the next big milestone: just where (or when) is the halfway point in this historic voyage?
  • New Horizons Detects Neptune's Moon Triton
    Add another moon to the New Horizons photo gallery: the spacecraft's Long Range Reconnaissance Imager detected Triton, the largest of Neptune's 13 known moons, during last fall's annual spacecraft checkout.
  • Launch Plus Three Years: Looking Back, Looking Ahead
    On the third anniversary of New Horizons' launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., mission team members reflect on liftoff, a busy first three years of flight and the ongoing voyage to Pluto and beyond.
  • Welcome to Mid-Cruise!
    With the third launch anniversary approaching, New Horizons enters the second of three cruise phases on its voyage to Pluto. In his first posting of the new year, mission Principal Investigator (A. Stern) takes a look at where the New Horizons spacecraft and team have been, what they're up to now, and where they're headed.
  • New Horizons Earns a Holiday
    After an intense annual checkout "more like a deep-space workout" New Horizons is getting some well-deserved rest. Mission operators at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory eased the spacecraft into electronic hibernation this week, wrapping up nearly four months of tests, data collection and software upgrades.
  • Building New Horizons - Again
    Bringing a Life-Size Pluto Probe Model to Life
  • SETI Radio Telescopes Track New Horizons
    The New Horizons spacecraft has a new "audience" for the electronic signals it beams back to Earth.
  • Nine Mementos Headed to the Ninth Planet
    You might have heard that New Horizons was carrying several commemorative items from Earth on its voyage, but do you know what they are? For the first time, mission Principal Investigator (A. Stern) covers the complete list of mementos placed around the spacecraft.
  • 1,000 Days on the Road to Pluto - Time Flies and So Does New Horizons!
    Oct. 15 will be the 1,000th day of flight for New Horizons. Mission Principal Investigator (A. Stern) looks back on the flurry of activity since the spacecraft's incredible launch in January 2006, and checks in on the progress of Annual Checkout 2, happening now on New Horizons through mid-December.
  • NASA Salutes New Horizons Team
    NASA has honored the New Horizons team with a Group Achievement Award for creating and launching the first mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. Project Manager Glen Fountain also earned a NASA Public Service Medal.
  • 'Brain Transplant' Successful as Checkout Continues
    The first major order of business in New Horizons' second annual checkout was accomplished as planned, as operators uploaded an upgraded version of the software that runs the spacecraft's Command and Data Handling system.
  • Team Checks Out New Horizons
    Rustled out of hibernation, New Horizons is wide awake and undergoing its annual checkout. Follow the "ACO" progress on our Twitter site!
  • Journeying Beyond Saturn
    As avid followers of New Horizons know, our spacecraft has been mostly hibernating since February, and will continue to so do until Sept. 2, when we will wake it to begin its second annual checkout. Many of you will also recall that New Horizons passed the orbit of Saturn in early Jun.
  • New Horizons Team Celebrates 30th Anniversary of Charon's Discovery
    This week the New Horizons mission team celebrates the 30th anniversary of the discovery of Pluto's largest and first moon, Charon, by U.S. Naval Observatory astronomers James Christy and Robert Harrington.
  • New Horizons Ventures Beyond Saturn's Orbit
    New Horizons crossed the orbit of Saturn on Jun 8, passing yet another interplanetary milepost on its voyage to Pluto and the icy environs of the Kuiper Belt.
  • Milestones Ahead: New Horizons Set to Cross Saturn's Orbit: Spacecraft Will Be First to Journey beyond Ringed Planet Since 1981
    Last week, New Horizons woke up from its longest electronic hibernation period to date - 89 days. And over the next 10 days, the New Horizons team will celebrate a trio of milestones on the spacecraft's long journey to explore Pluto in 2015.
  • Storm Winds Blow in Jupiter's Little Red Spot
    Using data from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft and two telescopes at Earth, an international team of scientists has found that one of the solar system's largest and newest storms "Jupiter's Little Red Spot" has some of the highest wind speeds ever detected on any planet.
  • Tombaugh's Accomplishments: A True Work of Art
  • Green Beacons for a Golden Bird
    As you read these words, the New Horizons spacecraft remains in a long period of almost continuous hibernation, which began on Feb. 21 and stretches until Sept. 2. During this time the spacecraft will fly from nine to almost 11 times as far from the Sun as the Earth is, covering more than 300 million more kilometers!
  • Memories of Jupiter
    A year ago, New Horizons was flying through the heart of the Jupiter system, gradually picking up speed and systematically gathering spectacular data on the solar system's largest planet and its closest moons. The results of that spectacular flyby have since been featured on thousands of electronic and printed pages, including a special issue of the journal Science in October 2007.
  • New Horizons Crosses 9 au
    New Horizons passed a planetary milepost today at 5 a.m. EST when it reached a distance of 9 astronomical units (au) from the Sun, about 836.6 million miles, or nine times the distance from the Earth to the Sun. "The spacecraft destined for the ninth planet is now just beyond 9 AU and continuing outbound for the solar system's frontier at more than 60,000 kilometers per hour!" says New Horizons Principal Investigator (A. Stern), of NASA Headquarters.
  • A Hi-Def Peek at Pluto
    New Horizons made its first detection of Pluto using the high-resolution mode of its Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) during three separate sets of observations in October 2007.
  • Happy Birthday New Horizons! Two Years on the Road to the Ninth Planet
    Just like the parent of a kid growing up from an infant to a toddler, my experience with New Horizons in flight, since our launch two years ago this week, is that the first two years have passed amazingly quickly and yet amazingly slowly, all at the same time. I guess that given some of the spacecraft hiccups of the past several months, one could also analogize that New Horizons has reached the "Terrible Two" stage and is into saying "no" a little more these days than in its first year.
  • 'Ice' Congratulates 'Fire' on a Successful Mercury Flyby
    The New Horizons Pluto-Kuiper Belt exploration team sends hearty congratulations to its colleagues on the MESSENGER mission, who orchestrated an historic flyby of the planet Mercury on Jan. 14.
  • Podcast: The Hibernation Express
    Podcast #5: The Hibernation Express
  • New Horizons Team Talks Jupiter at AGU Meeting
    The New Horizons spacecraft's spectacular flight past Jupiter earlier this year - which gave it a gravitational boost on the way to a 2015 encounter with Pluto - also provided an opportunity to test the instruments on the NASA probe while gathering new scientific data. Members of the New Horizons team will present findings from that encounter during the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting this week in San Francisco.
  • Autumn 2007 - Onward to the Kuiper Belt
    New Horizons has now covered 85% of the distance from the Sun to Saturn's orbit, which it will pass in mid-2008. Of course, Saturn will be nowhere near New Horizons when we pass that milestone, as it is by chance located far around the Sun from the path New Horizons is following to Pluto. But as you can tell, we are really getting to be well into the outer solar system now.
  • The Guest Perspective - Data for the Next Generations
    New Horizons is about to enter hibernation for its long trip to Pluto. It will be deep in slumber, but not forgotten, and we've taken a crucial step to ensure that its precious data will never be forgotten either. All planetary missions undergo a process called "data archiving," which protects the information against the ravages of time.
  • New Horizons Sees Changes in Jupiter System
    The voyage of NASA's Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft through the Jupiter system earlier this year provided a bird's-eye view of a dynamic planet that has changed since the last close-up looks by NASA spacecraft.
  • Checking Out New Horizons
    Since I last wrote here, at the start of August, New Horizons has already traveled another 100 million kilometers from the Sun, putting us more than 7.5 Astronomical Units out, roughly halfway between Jupiter and Saturn. By the middle of next year, we'll be beyond Saturn's orbit, where Cassini is. That will make New Horizons the farthest spacecraft on its way to or at its target.
  • Maneuver Puts New Horizons on a Straight Path to Pluto
    Starting at 4:04 p.m. EDT on Sept. 25, New Horizons fired its thrusters for 15 minutes and 37 seconds, using less than a kilogram of fuel to change its velocity by 2.37 meters per second, or just more than 5 miles per hour. Monitored from the New Horizons Mission Operations Center at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., the maneuver was only the fourth trajectory correction for the spacecraft since launch in January 2006, and the first since it sped through the Jupiter system last February. The spacecraft was nearly 727 million miles (1.16 billion kilometers) from Earth during the maneuver - just about halfway between the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn.
  • New Horizons to Voyager: Happy 30th Anniversary!
    On the 30th anniversary of Voyager 1's launch, the New Horizons mission salutes its predecessor on the path toward the solar system's planetary frontier - and beyond.Destined for Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, New Horizons is the first mission to an unexplored planet since the Voyagers roared into space in 1977. Voyager 1 launched on Sept. 5, 1977; Voyager 2 launched 16 days earlier. Together the Voyagers continue toward the edge of the solar system, returning information from distances more than three times farther away than Pluto.
  • Meet the New Horizons Pluto Pals!
    New Horizons wasn't the only voyage launched on January 19, 2006 - this week we welcome the "Pluto Pals" to the New Horizons team, five kids who were born on the same day our spacecraft embarked on its historic journey the outer solar system.
  • Outbound at 7 au
    Since I last wrote here, in mid-June, New Horizons has continued its speedy journey from Jupiter's orbit (at 5.2 astronomical units) toward Saturn's at 9.5 au. On average, we travel about a third of an astronomical unit each month, or roughly a million miles per day. So, as August begins, we're nearing the halfway point in the Jupiter-to-Saturn leg of our journey, set to reach 7 AU on Aug. 6. We'll pass Saturn's orbit (but not Saturn, which will be far away from our path) next June.
  • Good Morning, New Horizons!
    Early this morning, New Horizons operators gently awakened the spacecraft from the two-week "nap" that marked the mission's first operational step into hibernation mode.
  • New Horizons Slips into Electronic Slumber
    New Horizons' first operational hibernation phase is off to a successful start! On commands transmitted from the Mission Operations Center at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Maryland, through NASA's Deep Space Network, the spacecraft eased into hibernation mode in the early hours of June 27. Since then, New Horizons has twice broadcast "green" beacon tones back to Earth, indicating all systems are healthy and operating as programmed.
  • Nap Before You Sleep
    Since I last wrote in mid-May, New Horizons has continued its traverse down the magnetotail of Jupiter. That final phase of our Jupiter flyby science will conclude tomorrow, on June 21. At that point, we will be 1.25 Astronomical Units, or about 120 million miles from Jupiter. (For Jupiter aficionados, that's about 2,300 Jupiter radii from the planet). In the past month, our plasma instruments - SWAP and PEPSSI - revealed that the spacecraft had passed in and out of Jupiter's flagging magnetotail a number of times as we exited this enormous, time-variable space plasma structure.
  • Full Set of Jupiter Close-Approach Data Reaches Home
    Like countless others before it, the data packet rode a radio signal more than 500 million miles from the New Horizons spacecraft to Earth, filtering through NASA's largest antennas late last week to mission and science operations center computers in Maryland and Colorado.
  • Podcast: Jupiter Closest Approach
  • Featured Image: Tvashtar in Motion
    Using its Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), the New Horizons spacecraft captured the two frames in this "movie" of the 330-kilometer (200-mile) high Tvashtar volcanic eruption plume on Jupiter's moon Io on February 28, 2007, from a range of 2.7 million kilometers (1.7 million miles). The two images were taken 50 minutes apart, at 03:50 and 04:40 Universal Time, and because particles in the plume take an estimated 30 minutes to fall back to the surface after being ejected by the central volcano, each image likely shows an entirely different set of particles. The details of the plume structure look quite different in each frame, though the overall brightness and size of the plume remain constant.
  • Continuing Our Jovian Journey
    This will be a short update, but I didn't want you to think we've folded our tent at Jupiter yet. The image illustration at right is amazing, isn't it? If you haven't been to Jupiter yourself, I think now you can say you almost have been!
  • New Horizons Provides New Views of Jupiter
    NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has provided new data on the Jupiter system ­-- stunning scientists with never-before-seen perspectives of the giant planet's atmosphere, rings, moons and magnetosphere.
  • NASA Science Update to Discuss Data from Jupiter Flyby
    A NASA Science Update at 2 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, May 1, will discuss new views of the Jupiter system. The Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft is returning these images as it flies past the solar system's largest planet during the initial stages of a planned six-month encounter. The update, taking place in the NASA Headquarters auditorium in Washington, will air live on NASA Television and be streamed on the Web at
  • The Colors of Night
    The New Horizons Multicolor Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) took this image of Jupiter's volcanic moon Io at 04:30 Universal Time on February 28, 2007, about one hour before New Horizons' closest approach to Jupiter, from a range of 2.7 million kilometers (1.7 million miles). Part of the Ralph imaging instrument, MVIC is designed for the very faint solar illumination at Pluto, and is too sensitive to image the brightly lit daysides of Jupiter's moons. Io's dayside is therefore completely overexposed in this image, and appears white and featureless. However, the Jupiter-lit nightside of Io and the giant plume from the Tvashtar volcano are well exposed, and the versions of the image shown here have been processed to bring out each of these features.
  • Capturing Callisto
    The New Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) captured these two images of Jupiter's outermost large moon, Callisto, as the spacecraft flew past Jupiter in late February. New Horizons' closest approach distance to Jupiter was 2.3 million kilometers (1.4 million miles), not far outside Callisto's orbit, which has a radius of 1.9 million kilometers (1.2 million miles). However, Callisto happened to be on the opposite side of Jupiter during the spacecraft's pass through the Jupiter system, so these images, taken from 4.7 million kilometers (3.0 million miles) and 4.2 million kilometers (2.6 million miles) away, are the closest of Callisto that New Horizons obtained.
  • Two Moons Meet over Jupiter
    This beautiful image of the crescents of volcanic Io and more sedate Europa was snapped by New Horizons' color Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC) at 10:34 UT on March 2, 2007, about two days after New Horizons made its closest approach to Jupiter.
  • Storm Spectra
    These images, taken with the LEISA infrared camera on the New Horizons Ralph instrument, show fine details in Jupiter's turbulent atmosphere using light that can only be seen using infrared sensors. These are "false color" pictures made by assigning infrared wavelengths to the colors red, green and blue. LEISA (Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array) takes images across 250 IR wavelengths in the range from 1.25 to 2.5 microns, allowing scientists to obtain an infrared spectrum at every location on Jupiter. A micron is one millionth of a meter.
  • A Burst of Color
    New Horizons captured this unique view of Jupiter's moon Io with its color camera - the Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) - at 00:25 UT on March 1, 2007, from a range of 2.3 million kilometers (1.4 million miles). The image is centered at Io coordinates 4 degrees south, 162 degrees west, and was taken shortly before the complementary Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) photo of Io released on March 13, which had higher resolution but was not in color.
  • Trip Report
    New Horizons tripped up but recovered itself without a nasty spill last week. This event occurred on the afternoon of March 19, precisely 14 months to the day since we launched.
  • An Even Closer Look at the Little Red Spot
    The New Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) has returned stunning new images of Jupiter's Little Red Spot, obtained as a 2-by-2 mosaic at 0312 UTC on February 27, 2007, from a distance of 3 million kilometers (1.8 million miles). The image scale is 15 kilometers (about 9 miles) per pixel.
  • Alice Views Jupiter and Io
    This graphic illustrates the pointing and shows the data from one of many observations made by the New Horizons Alice ultraviolet spectrometer (UVS) instrument during the Pluto-bound spacecraft's recent encounter with Jupiter. The red lines in the graphic show the scale, orientation, and position of the combined "box and slot" field of view of the Alice UVS during this observation.
  • A Look from LEISA
    On February 24, 2007, the LEISA (pronounced "Leesa") infrared spectral imager in the New Horizons Ralph instrument observed giant Jupiter in 250 narrow spectral channels. At the time the spacecraft was 6 million kilometers (nearly 4 million miles) from Jupiter; at that range, the LEISA imager can resolve structures about 400 kilometers (250 miles) across.
  • A Midnight Plume
    The Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on New Horizons captured another dramatic picture of Jupiter's moon Io and its volcanic plumes, 19 hours after the spacecraft's closest approach to Jupiter on Feb. 28, 2007. LORRI took this 75 millisecond exposure at 0035 Universal Time on March 1, 2007, when Io was 2.3 million kilometers (1.4 million miles) from the spacecraft.
  • Downlink Initiated
    New Horizons is about 0.15 astronomical units from Jupiter now, and already 5.5 AU from the Sun! Our final imaging and spectroscopy observations of Jupiter system targets wrapped up last week. Henceforth, the only Jupiter system observations New Horizons will make are magnetotail environment measurements using our PEPSSI and SWAP charged-particle spectrometers and, beginning in April, interplanetary dust measurements by Venetia, our Student Dust Counter.
  • Jupiter's Rings
    The New Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) snapped this photo of Jupiter's ring system on February 24, 2007, from a distance of 7.1 million kilometers (4.4 million miles).
  • The Tip of the Iceberg
    The intensive phase of Jupiter encounter operations is winding down, but it's not yet over. In the first days of this week, we still have Radio Science Experiment (REX) and Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) calibrations using Jupiter system targets, and some imaging to better determine the shapes and photometric phase curves of Jupiter's satellites Elara and Himalia.
  • Tvashtar's Plume
    This dramatic image of Io was taken by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on New Horizons at 11:04 Universal Time on February 28, 2007, just about 5 hours after the spacecraft's closest approach to Jupiter. The distance to Io was 2.5 million kilometers (1.5 million miles) and the image is centered at 85 degrees west longitude. At this distance, one LORRI pixel subtends 12 kilometers (7.4 miles) on Io.
  • Launch Complete
    The eighth mission to the fifth planet has reached its crescendo - Jupiter, my friends, is in the rear view mirror! Just yesterday we passed closest approach, sealing the deal on our gravity assist and setting us up for our mid-July 2015 encounter with the Pluto system.
  • Pluto-Bound New Horizons Spacecraft Gets a Boost from Jupiter
    NASA's New Horizons spacecraft successfully completed a flyby of Jupiter early this morning, using the massive planet's gravity to pick up speed on its 3-billion mile voyage to Pluto and the unexplored Kuiper Belt region beyond.
  • Two Moons and a Storm: Europa
    This image of Jupiter's icy moon Europa, the first Europa image returned by New Horizons, was taken with the spacecraft's Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) camera at 07:19 Universal Time on February 27, from a range of 3.1 million kilometers (1.9 million miles).
  • Two Moons and a Storm: Ganymede
    This is New Horizons' best image of Ganymede, Jupiter's largest moon, taken with the spacecraft's Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) camera at 10:01 Universal Time on February 27 from a range of 3.5 million kilometers (2.2 million miles).
  • Two Moons and a Storm: Little Red Spot
    This is a mosaic of three New Horizons images of Jupiter's Little Red Spot, taken with the spacecraft's Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) camera at 17:41 Universal Time on February 26 from a range of 3.5 million kilometers (2.1 million miles).
  • An Eruption on Io
    The first images returned to Earth by New Horizons during its close encounter with Jupiter feature the Galilean moon Io, snapped with the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) at 0840 UTC on February 26, while the moon was 2.5 million miles (4 million kilometers) from the spacecraft.
  • Picking up the Pace
    We're in the thick of it at Jupiter now! Since early on Saturday, February 24, New Horizons has been executing its Jupiter close approach sequence, which contains 15 to 20 observations per day. Recall this is almost 10 times more than what we were doing just a week earlier!
  • Campaigning for Jupiter
    We're now inside of a week to Jupiter closest approach! One aspect of our flyby that I have not yet noted is the broad campaign of coordinated Jupiter observations taking place on Earth and in space. As New Horizons approaches Jupiter, telescopes on terra firma, in Earth orbit and even far across the solar system are turning to observe the "big picture" while New Horizons provides the fine details.
  • Speeding to Zeus
    We're a week from Jupiter closest approach. And if you're monitoring the "Where Is New Horizons?" page, you've likely noticed that we're already accelerating because of Jupiter's gravity. Although the effect is relatively small now, it will build dramatically in the coming days, giving us a boost of approximately 9,000 miles per hour (nearly 14,500 kilometers per hours) by the middle of next week. That's half the speed of a space shuttle in Earth orbit - essentially for free!
  • Calm Before Close Approach
    If you look at our "Where Is New Horizons?" page, which displays the spacecraft's trajectory status, you'll see we're right on Jupiter's doorstep. And it's true. Jupiter already appears one-third of a degree across - just a little smaller than the full Moon as seen from Earth - and growing every day.
  • SWAP Observes Solar Wind Interactions at Jupiter
    A little over a year since launch, with its sights firmly on Jupiter, the New Horizons spacecraft is testing its science payload and making observations as it rounds the planet for a gravity-assist that will speed its journey to the edge of the solar system.
  • One Year Down, Eight to Go, on the Road to Pluto
    A year ago this past Friday, on January 19, 2006, New Horizons lifted off on a pillar of smoke and fire and began its journey to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. How quickly that year has passed. New Horizons and our ground team accomplished a great deal in that first year of flight.
  • New Horizons Closes in on Jupiter
    Just a year after it was dispatched on the first mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is on the doorstep of the solar system's largest planet - about to swing past Jupiter and pick up even more speed on its voyage toward the unexplored regions of the planetary frontier.
  • Jupiter Encounter Begins
    The New Horizons Jupiter encounter is under way! The spacecraft began collecting data on the Jovian system this week, starting with black-and-white images of the giant planet and an infrared look at the icy moon Callisto on Jan. 8.
  • New Horizons in 2007
    What a memorable year for New Horizons! After the final few ground preparations and flight approvals, we launched at 1900 GMT (2 p.m. EST) on January 19. I will never forget the sight of the giant, 210-foot-tall "A Train" leaving Florida for the Kuiper Belt, and how filled with pride I was for everyone who worked to see this milestone come to pass.
  • New Horizons Makes First Pluto Sighting
  • A Season for Thanksgiving
  • Making Old Horizons New
  • Jupiter Ahoy!
  • Changing Seasons on the Road Trip to Planet 9
  • Unabashedly Onward to the Ninth Planet
  • LORRI Sees 'First Light'
  • New Horizons Salutes Voyager
  • Pluto-Charon: A True Double Planet
  • Nine Years to the Ninth Planet, and Counting
  • Student Dust Counter Renamed "Venetia," Honoring Girl Who Named Pluto
  • Pluto's Two Small Moons Christened Nix and Hydra
  • New Horizons Tracks an Asteroid
  • A Summer's Crossing Through the Asteroid Belt
  • 'Exploration at Its Greatest'
  • New Horizons in Space: The First 100 Days
  • New Horizons Crosses the Orbit of Mars
  • Payload Gets High Marks on Early Tests
  • Zero G and I Feel Fine
  • A Colorful Discovery about Pluto's Moons
  • New Horizons Adjusts Course Toward Jupiter
  • Boulder and Baltimore
  • Researchers Describe Discovery of Pluto's New Moons
  • Tom's Cruise
  • Happy 100th Birthday, Clyde Tombaugh!
  • Clyde Tombaugh: A Daughter's Perspective
  • Our Aim Is True
  • New Horizons Successfully Performs First Post-Launch Maneuvers
  • New Horizons Setting Course for Jupiter
  • On the Road at Last
  • It Worked!
  • NASA's Pluto Mission Launched Toward New Horizons
  • New Horizons Launch Reset for Jan. 19
  • First Things First
  • We're in Flight Configuration
  • Status Report from Kennedy Space Center
  • It Takes A Team
  • Free Bird
  • Status Report: Inspection Completed
  • Getting Closer
  • NASA Sets Sights on First Pluto Mission
  • New Horizons Meets Its Launch Vehicle
  • NASA Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report
  • Next Month, We Aim to Fly!
  • A Century After Kuiper's Birth, U.S. Prepares to Launch First Probe to the Kuiper Belt
  • Mission Update: Successful Tests
  • New Horizons Launch Preparations Move Ahead
  • Two More Moons, Two More Months, and Ten More Watts
  • Hubble Reveals Possible New Moons Around Pluto
  • My Life with Clyde
  • New Horizons Payload Ready for Flight, Exciting Science Campaign
  • Changes in Latitude
  • APL-Built Pluto Spacecraft Begins Launch Preparations
  • September Comes, Complete With Sister Worlds
  • A Road Trip, from Earth to Pluto
  • Journey Begins for NASA's New Horizons Probe
  • Pluto-Charon- Two for the Price of One
  • 'Motivated' Team Eyes Mission's Next Stage
  • New Horizons Indeed
  • The PI's Perspective
  • NASA Hosts Community Meetings on New Horizons
  • An Inside Look at New Horizons
  • An Inside Look at New Horizons from Principal Investigator Alan Stern
  • SWAP to Determine Where the Sun and Ice Worlds Meet
  • Analyzing Pluto's Atmosphere with Alice
  • Ralph Aims to Put Pluto in Focus
  • Atlas V Chosen to Launch New Horizons
  • 25th Anniversary of Charon's Discovery (from the U.S. Naval Observatory)
  • Pluto-Kuiper Belt Mission Moves Ahead (APL News Release)
  • NASA Moves New Horizons into Full Development (SRI News Release)
  • More Moons Over Pluto?
  • New Horizons Adds Student Science Instrument
  • New Horizons Passes Another Development Milestone
  • Science Operations Center Dedicated to Charon's Discoverer
  • New Horizons Team Tuning Its Instruments
  • Student-Led Team Hopes to Fly Equipment Aboard NASA's Pluto Mission
  • SwRI Research Reveals New Kuiper Belt Mystery
  • Status Report: New Horizons Shines in First Major Review
  • New Horizons Mission Making Progress
  • New Horizons Team Plots a Faster Path to Pluto
  • New Horizons names Science Ops Center after Pluto Discoverer Clyde Tombaugh
  • NASA Goddard to Provide Key New Horizons Instrument
  • NASA Taps APL Team for First Pluto-Kuiper Belt Mission (APL News Release)
  • SwRI-APL Team to Develop First Pluto Mission (SRI News Release)
  • NASA Selects Pluto-Kuiper Belt Mission for Phase B Study
  • Scientists and Engineers Complete NASA-Funded 'Phase A' Study of Pluto-Kuiper Belt Mission
  • Aviation Week and Space Technology (PDF)
  • NASA Selects APL's Pluto Mission Proposal for Further Study
  • NASA Selects Two Investigations for Pluto-Kuiper Belt Mission Feasibility Studies

One thought on “Ongoing Pluto Fly-by (Livestream included): New Horizons’ Final Look at Pluto’s Mysterious Dark Spots (Photo)

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