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.

2006 January 24
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
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New Horizons Launches 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 last week toward adventures in the distant Solar System. The craft is one of the fastest spaceships ever launched by humans, having passed the Moon only nine hours after launch and is on track to buzz Jupiter in early 2007. Even traveling over 75,000 kilometers per hour, the New Horizons craft will not arrive at Pluto until 2015. Pluto is the only remaining planet that 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.

Tomorrow's picture: echoes of boom

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
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A service of: EUD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.