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New Horizons sets record for closest Pluto approach

2 Dec 2011, 20:02 UTC
New Horizons sets record for closest Pluto approach NASA, graphic by Jason Davis
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The New Horizons spacecraft, launched January 19, 2006, is the new record holder for the closest spacecraft to approach Pluto. The previous approach record was held by Voyager 2 — which wasn’t heading for the dwarf planet directly, but came within 1.58 billion kilometers on January 29, 1986. Wondering why that date sounds familiar? The space shuttle Challenger disintegrated on its way into orbit one day earlier on January 28. New Horizons will arrive at Pluto on July 14, 2015.
I created a small infographic for the occasion. It’s nothing fancy, and was originally intended to be more grandiose — but I have a day job, so this will have to do for now!
The New Horizons spacecraft, on a mission to study Pluto and other Kuiper Belt objects, became the new record holder for the closest spacecraft to approach Pluto on December 2, 2011. Credit: NASA, graphic by Jason Davis

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