Quirks and Quarks

New Horizons Reaches Pluto

After a ten year journey, NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto will reach the dwarf planet on July 14.

This summer, the spacecraft will finally reach its destination

Artist's impression of the New Horizon's spacecraft (Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)
On July 14, NASA's New Horizons mission will finally reach Pluto after a nearly ten-year journey to the Kuiper belt. The tiny probe will not be stopping, but will fly by the dwarf planet, approaching within 10 kilometres at a speed of 50,000 km/h.

Dr. Leslie Young is an astronomer at the Southwest Research Institute and Deputy Project Scientist on the New Horizons mission to Pluto, and she and her colleagues have spent the time since the spacecraft's launch carefully planning for this encounter. While the flyby will be brief, instruments on the spacecraft will collect a range of data, from pictures to chemical analysis of escaping gases, and it will take more than a year to transmit all that data back to scientists on the Earth.

After Pluto, the spacecraft will continue on to other objects in the Kuiper belt to try to gather more data on the most distant part of our solar system.

Related Links

- NASA - New Horizons
- Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory - New Horizons
- Bob's blog on New Horizons