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/

4.2 /5 (10 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

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

Internet moguls Musk, Bezos shake up US space race

16 hours ago

The space race to end America's reliance on Russia escalated this week with a multibillion dollar NASA award for SpaceX's Elon Musk and an unexpected joint venture for Blue Origin's Jeff Bezos.

Winter in the southern uplands of Mars

Sep 19, 2014

Over billions of years, the southern uplands of Mars have been pockmarked by numerous impact features, which are often so closely packed that they overlap. One such feature is Hooke crater, shown in this ...

Five facts about NASA's ISS-RapidScat

Sep 19, 2014

NASA's ISS-RapidScat mission will observe ocean wind speed and direction over most of the globe, bringing a new eye on tropical storms, hurricanes and typhoons. Here are five fast facts about the mission.

User comments : 0