New Horizons Spacecraft Makes Historic Flyby of Pluto

By NASA's calculations, we've made it to Pluto.

New Horizons is expected to snap new images providing scientists with more clues about Pluto's terrain, however the spacecraft will also be gathering information on Pluto's Texas-sized moon, Charon, and its smaller moons Styx, Nix, Kerberos and Hydra.

The space probe traveled at an approximate speed of 30,800 miles per hour and won't stop as it whizzes past Pluto. At its closest approach, New Horizons was expected to be 7,750 miles above the surface of Pluto, approximately the distance between New York and Mumbai, India.

It's expected the team on Earth will get its first look at photos and information later today and Wednesday since information from New Horizons takes 4.5 hours to reach Earth.

A photo released this afternoon and taken four hours before New Horizons made its closest approach shows Pluto and Charon. NASA added false colors to the photo to show the stark differences in the surfaces of Pluto and Charon.

Seven science tools on board New Horizons were responsible for gathering data to send back to Earth, giving mankind the closest examination yet of the dwarf planet that sits on the edge of the solar system.

On Monday, NASA said information from New Horizons revealed Pluto is 1,473 miles in diameter -- larger than what scientists previously believed.

"The size of Pluto has been debated since its discovery in 1930. We are excited to finally lay this question to rest," mission scientist Bill McKinnon said in a statement.

New Horizons blasted off for its long haul mission on Jan. 19, 2006, atop an Atlas V rocket, back when Pluto still enjoyed status as a planet. Scientists later that year voted to demote Pluto to a "dwarf planet."

During its epic trip, New Horizons has spent two-thirds of the time sleeping, taking a total of 18 naps, which helps NASA preserve the systems on board.