New Horizons spacecraft sped past 14km per second. The probe was to grab more images and other data as it passed just 12,500km from the little world at 11:50GMT. The flyby of 2,370kim wide Pluto is an landmark moment in the history of space exploration. It marks the fact that all the planets have now been visited at least once by a probe.
“We have completed the initial reconnaissance of the Solar System, an endeavour started under President Kennedy more than 50 years ago and continuing to today under President Obama,” said the mission’s chief scientist, Alan Stern.
The picture of Pluto was posted on NASA’s social media networks with the caption:
SNEAK PEAK of gorgeous Pluto! The dwarf planet has sent a love note back to Earth via our New Horizons spacecraft, which has traveled more than 9 years and 3+ billion miles. This is the last and most detailed image of Pluto sent to Earth before the moment of closest approach – 7:49 a.m. EDT today. This image will be released and discussed at 8 a.m. EDT today. Watch our briefing live on NASA Television at: http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv The high res pic will be posted on the web at: http://www.nasa.gov.
This stunning image of the dwarf planet was captured from New Horizons at about 4 p.m. EDT on July 13, about 16 hours before the moment of closest approach. The spacecraft was 476,000 miles (766,000 kilometers) from the surface.
Image Credit: NASA