Astronomy Picture of the Day – New Horizons Launch to Pluto

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2015 July 12

New Horizons Launch to Pluto
Image Credit & Copyright: Ben Cooper

 

Explanation: Destination: Pluto. The New Horizons spacecraft roared off its launch pad at Cape Canaveral in Florida, USA in 2006 toward adventures in the distant Solar System. The craft is the fastest spaceships ever launched by humans, having passed the Moon only nine hours after launch, and Jupiter only a year later. After spending almost a decade crossing the Solar System, New Horizons will fly past Pluto on Tuesday. Pluto, officially a planet when New Horizons launched, has never been visited by a spacecraft or photographed up close. After Pluto, the robot spaceship will visit one or more Kuiper Belt Objects orbiting the Sun even further out than Pluto. Pictured, the New Horizons craft launches into space atop a powerful Atlas V rocket.