Last Call: Pluto-bound craft crosses Neptune orbit

Aug 25, 2014 by Marcia Dunn
New Horizons
Artist impression of the New Horizons spacecraft as it approached Jupiter en route to Pluto. Credit: 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 2.5 billion miles (4 billion kilometers) 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.

Explore further: Voyager map details Neptune's strange moon Triton

More information: NASA: www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/newhorizons/main/

Related Stories

Voyager map details Neptune's strange moon Triton

Aug 22, 2014

(Phys.org) —NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft gave humanity its first close-up look at Neptune and its moon Triton in the summer of 1989. Like an old film, Voyager's historic footage of Triton has been "restored" ...

New Horizons only one year from Pluto (w/ Video)

Jul 15, 2014

In July 2015, NASA will discover a new world. No one knows what to expect when the alien landscape comes into focus. There could be icy geysers, towering mountains, deep valleys, even planetary rings.

Watch Pluto and Charon engage in their orbital dance

Aug 08, 2014

Now here's something I guarantee you've never seen before: a video of the dwarf planet Pluto and its largest moon Charon showing the two distinctly separate worlds actually in motion around each other! Captured ...

New Horizons flies by Uranus

Mar 21, 2011

The Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft will fly by another planet today (March 18, 2011). However, the robotic craft won’t be taking any images as it zooms past Uranus’ orbit at about 6 p.m. EDT, ...

Recommended for you

Can sound help us detect 'earthquakes' on Venus?

Apr 23, 2015

Detecting an "earthquake" on Venus would seem to be an impossible task. The planet's surface is a hostile zone of crushing pressure and scorching temperatures—about 874 degrees F, hot enough to melt lead—that ...

Titan's atmosphere useful in study of hazy exoplanets

Apr 23, 2015

With more than a thousand confirmed planets outside of our solar system, astronomers are attempting to identify the atmospheres of these distant bodies to determine if they could possibly host life.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.