Zee Media Bureau/Shruti Saxena
New Delhi: NASA`s Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft on Monday crossed the orbit of Neptune, which is its last major crossing before it reaches its final destination Pluto.
In what could be called a coincidence, the event matches with the 25th anniversary of the same day when NASA’s Voyager 2 encountered Neptune on August 25, 1989.
Jim Green, director of NASA`s Planetary Science Division, NASA Headquarters in Washington was quoted as saying: “It`s a cosmic coincidence that connects one of NASA`s iconic past outer solar system explorers, with our next outer solar system explorer”. “Exactly 25 years ago at Neptune, Voyager 2 delivered our `first` look at an unexplored planet. Now it will be New Horizons` turn to reveal the unexplored Pluto and its moons in stunning detail next summer on its way into the vast outer reaches of the solar system.”
The New Horizons spacecraft was launched in January 2006 with an aim to unravel the mysterious planet Pluto and its moons. The spacecraft is likely to be near Pluto on July 14, 2015. At present, it is at a distance of about 2.48 billion miles away from Neptune. If the spacecraft`s journey continues successfully, it will be the first probe in the space history to reach the planet Pluto.