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Astronomy and Astrophysics

Pluto's history

Pluto's history

The spotlight is bright enough to thaw even Pluto. Well, not quite, but the tiny, icy world is getting front-page, prime-time attention for its first visit by a spacecraft — NASA's New Horizons. Tuesday morning's 31,000-mph flyby — with closest approach at 7,700 miles, the approximate distance between Seattle and Sydney, or New York and Mumbai — is expected to open up new ground on the last unexplored planetary territory of our solar system. "Turning little dots, little points of light into planets," is what New Horizons, on the road for 9½ years and 3 billion miles, is all about, principal scientist Alan Stern said Monday. Here's a...