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Pluto - Missions to Pluto

No spacecraft has ever visited Pluto - yet. Our best images from the distant, tiny world is from the Hubble Space Telescope.

New Horizons is on the way to Pluto - launch of the spacecraft was on January 19, 2006. This will be the first spacecraft (from Earth that is) to visit this distant world. Arrival is planned for around 2015 with Kuiper Belt flybys from 2016 to 2020.

A New Horizons Update:

On January 18, 2007, New Horizons approaches Jupiter. The Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) took this 4 millisecond image of the Jovian giant:

The two moons are Io and Ganymede - the shadow on Jupiter is from Ganymede.

On February 28, 2007, New Horizons will be at its closest approach. As the probe closes in, Jupiter's gravity will alter its course and increase the probe's velocity - saving three years of travel time. Without the gravity assist, the probe will reach Pluto in the year 2018. With the assist, New Horizons will reach Pluto in the year 2015.

For more detail on the Jupiter gravity assist, you can download the Jupiter Press Kit.

 

In addition, you may want to check out AeroSpaceGuide. This site has some interesting facts as well as mission summaries.

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