Two weeks ago, NASA announced the first color photograph of Pluto taken by a spacecraft on its way to the dwarf planet.
- The research literature is filled with articles about the properties of Pluto and its moons, based on observations from the ground and space telescope in orbit around the earth. But this is the first time we study Pluto up close, said Nasa's John Grünsfeld when the pictures were published.
- When the New Horizons spacecraft is flying past it in July, our knowledge will increase significantly about Pluto, and I have no doubt that we will make exciting discoveries.
New Horizons is the fastest spacecraft ever to have been launched. It has traveled for more than nine years, and five billion kilometers to reach its target. In July it flies past Pluto and the planets at least five moons. Then the probe will be traveling further into the Kuiper Belt, a vast area with a variety of objects beyond Neptune's orbit.
- Pluto is an exciting object to go to - at the very edge of our solar system. We know relatively little about Pluto since it is so far away that it is not possible to get good pictures of the surface and make measurements at close range.
Pluto is the largest known object in the Kuiper belt.
Pluto, which was first discovered in 1930, was originally considered the ninth planet from the sun, but in August 2006 it was downgraded to a dwarf planet since it was found several large bodies within the Kuiper belt.
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