Technology & Science

New Horizons spacecraft crosses Neptune orbit on Voyager 2 anniversary

The Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft crossed the orbit of Neptune today - a date that NASA called a 'cosmic coincidence.'

Voyager 2 spacecraft reached same milestone exactly 25 years ago

The New Horizons spacecraft is seen arriving at Pluto in this artist's conception. The encounter is scheduled to take place July 14, 2015. (Thierry Lombry/NASA)

NASA calls it a cosmic coincidence.

On Monday, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft crossed the orbit of Neptune on its way to Pluto. The celestial milestone occurred on the 25th anniversary of Voyager 2's historic flyby of Neptune.

It's the last major intersection for New Horizons, which is due at Pluto next summer after nearly a decade of travel.

Neptune wasn't exactly close to the spacecraft Monday. In fact, the planet was 4 billion kilometres away.

Scientist Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, says this will be the first opportunity in a generation to explore a new planetary system up close. New Horizons will study not only mysterious Pluto, but also its moons, some of which might still be hidden.

NASA's Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft captured this view of the giant planet Neptune and its large moon Triton on July 10. Today, the spacecraft crossed the orbit of Neptune on Aug. 25, 2014 – its last planetary orbit crossing before beginning an encounter with Pluto in January 2015. (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)