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New Horizons Spacecraft nears closest point to Pluto
A NASA image from July 13, 2015 shows Pluto from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft just before making it's closest approach to Pluto on July 14. The spacecraft has traveled 3 billion miles since launch on January 19, 2006. NASA/APL/SwRI/UPI
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Pluto (minor-planet designation: 134340 Pluto) is a dwarf planet in the Kuiper belt, a ring of bodies beyond Neptune. It was the first Kuiper belt object to be discovered. It is the largest and second-most-massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System and the ninth-largest and tenth-most-massive known object directly orbiting the Sun. It is the largest known trans-Neptunian object by volume but is less massive than Eris, a dwarf planet located in the scattered disc. Like other Kuiper belt objects, Pluto is primarily made of ice and rock[14] and is relatively small—about one-sixth the mass of the Moon and one-third its volume. It has a moderately eccentric and inclined orbit during which it ranges from 30 to 49 astronomical units (4.4–7.3 billion km) from the Sun. This means that Pluto periodically comes closer to the Sun than Neptune, but a stable orbital resonance with Neptune prevents them from colliding. In 2014, Pluto was 32.6 AU from the Sun. Light from the Sun takes about 5.5 hours to reach Pluto at its average distance (39.4 AU).[15]

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Pluto."