This blurry snapshot might not look like much, but it is in fact a historic photo taken by NASA’s New Horizon space probe on its approach to Pluto. Shot at a distance of around 71 million miles (114 million kilometres), the image is New Horizon‘s first colour photo of the dwarf planet and its largest moon, Charon.
It’s over nine years since New Horizons left Earth, and the spacecraft’s final destination is now only three months away. On July 14, New Horizons will make a flyby of Pluto and its moons, returning the first ever close-up images of this icy world.
Equipped with seven science instruments, the craft will perform a full analysis of Pluto, studying its geology, surface composition, climate and atmosphere, as well as its bevy of at least five moons.
“Scientific literature is filled with papers on the characteristics of Pluto and its moons from ground-based and Earth-orbiting space observations, but we’ve never studied Pluto up close and personal,” says John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of the NASA Science Mission Directorate. “In [this] unprecedented flyby, our knowledge of what the Pluto system is really like will expand exponentially, and I have no doubt there will be exciting discoveries.”
Stay tuned for all the latest news as the mission progresses!