After a journey of nine years and 3 billion miles, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft had a close-encounter with Pluto at 7:50 a.m. EDT July 14, 2015, closing to a distance of about 7,800 miles (12,500 kilometers) from the dwarf planet and its system of five known moons.
The 1,050-pound piano-sized probe was launched January 19, 2006 aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The craft flew by the distant dwarf planet after reaching a region beyond Neptune called the Kuiper Belt that was discovered in 1992. The achievement is the culmination of a 50-year effort to explore the solar system.
This photo of Pluto, which lost its designation as the solar system's ninth planet in 2006, was made from four images from New Horizons' Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) combined with color data from the Ralph instrument for an enhanced color global view released by NASA on July 24, 2015. The images, taken when the spacecraft was 280,000 miles (450,000 kilometers) away, show features as small as 1.4 miles (2.2 kilometers).