Monday, December 31, 2018 at 11:28AM
Drew Wolfe

Way Beyond Pluto, An Icy World Is Ready For Its Close-Up

"About a billion miles beyond Pluto, a spacecraft is closing in on an icy minor planet — a mysterious little place that's only about 20 miles across."

"If all goes well, NASA will start the new year with the most far-off exploration of a world ever, flying past it about 2,200 miles from the surface while taking images with an onboard telescope and camera. The closest approach will be at 12:33 a.m." ET on Jan 1.

"'Really, we have no idea what to expect,' Alan Stern, principal investigator of NASA's New Horizons mission, said during a recent news conference."

"The New Horizons probe is about the size of a grand piano. It has been flying through space for more than a dozen years. In 2015, it reached Pluto, and what had long been just a fuzzy circle in photographs was revealed to be a stunning, dark-reddish world made of frozen nitrogen and methane, with ice mountains."

"'The exploration of Pluto that we conducted was scientifically spectacular,' Stern said."


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