First Trip to Pluto
In mid-July, the New Horizons spacecraft is expected to pass by Pluto, offering humanity its most detailed picture ever of the dwarf planet. CU-Boulder has played a major role in the nine-year expedition to the edge of Earth's solar system: Alumnus Alan Stern (PhDAstro'89) is the mission's top scientist, and the spacecraft carries a scientific instrument designed and built by CU students. After passing Pluto, New Horizons will head into the surrounding Kuiper Belt and, if it survives, into the endlessness of space. For more, see "Voyage to Pluto."
*Actual flightpath differs
Journey duration: Nine years. Pluto is more than 3 billion miles away from Earth.
01/19/06 – Launch: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida
04/17/06 – Mars orbit crossing
02/28/07 – Jupiter flyby
12/28/09 – Halfway point (in distance)
10/16/10 – Halfway point (in time)
03/18/11 – Uranus orbit crossing
08/25/14 – Neptune orbit crossing
07/14/15 – Closest approach to Pluto