There is a tiny spacecraft racing towards the most distant reaches of the solar system. It is known as New Horizons, and it started its journey nearly a decade ago.

Launching in January of 2006, New Horizons has been making its way across our corner of the universe for the last 9 and a half years. It has been slowly approaching Pluto as time wanders on; however, when it finally reaches this tiny dwarf planet, the spacecraft will be anything but slow. It will pass Pluto and its moons (Charon, Nix, Hydra, Kerberos, and Styx) travelling at an amazing 26,700 miles an hour (43,000 km/h). It will then continue its path into the Kuiper belt, a disc-shaped region of volatile icy compounds (like methane, ammonia, and water)—the home of the comets.

Although the main goal is Pluto, New Horizons took a number of breathtaking image along the way. Here are some of the most impressive.

New Horizons launches on an Atlas rocket in 2006
Jupiter and Io see in in a mission flyby in 2007
A close approach to Io and Europa in 2007
Jupiter, Io, and Ganymede 2007
Jupiter’s rings 2007
New Horizons first even image of Pluto 2006
Pluto with orbiting moons seen by the spacecraft in 2014
First color image of Pluto and Charon 2015

 


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