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This Photo Of Pluto Marks The Start Of An Exciting Time For The Dwarf Planet

It might look like just a few pixels, but it's a big deal.

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These two photos of Pluto and its moon Charon have got scientists excited – for good reason.

They were taken on January 25 and 27 this year by the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on NASA's New Horizon's probe and are the clearest images yet from the spacecraft. And in July this year, as the probe reaches its closest approach, we can expect photos of Pluto, Charon and two of its other moons, Nix and Hydra, that are much more up close and personal.

New Horizons launched in January 2006 and got its first glimpse of Pluto (from very far away) later that year.


Since then the probe has been on a loooooong 3 billion mile journey to the dwarf planet. It woke up from hibernation in December last year, and is now speeding towards Pluto at 31,000 miles per hour.

According to planetary scientist Emily Lakdawalla we can expect one really good photo of Pluto on July 13, the day before the probe's closest approach, and then plenty more in days following.