Nearly a decade ago, the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab waved goodbye to the New Horizons spacecraft as it set out on a journey far away. Very far away. More than a billion miles away, in fact. And next week, New Horizons will finally reach its most distant point: Pluto.
Okay, so it’s not like New Horizons is going to land on Pluto or anything. But it’s going to pass closer to the distant planet than any other spacecraft ever has–and hopefully it’ll send back some useful data in the process.
(And before you start to yell at me for my terminology: look, I know Pluto recently got its planetary status revoked. But if Johns Hopkins still calls it a planet occasionally for convenience’s sake, then I will, too!)
Along the way, New Horizons has sent back images and even gone silent for a scary moment. But according to APL scientists who are controlling the craft, everything is on track for the Pluto flyby on July 14. So how will you be celebrating? Perhaps with a Pluto-themed cake?