Countdown to New Horizons' historic Pluto fly-by

Pluto: the latest image shows the face of the dwarf planet that will come into sharper focus tonight as New Horizons flies by.

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft will today make history, when at 12:49:57pm UTC (7:49.57am EST or 9:49.57pm AEST) it flies at 12,500 kilometres above the surface of Pluto for 24 hours, collecting detailed data and capturing the first surface images.

The spacecraft has travelled nearly five billion kilometres over nine and a half years to get there.

While New Horizons does not carry enough fuel to slow down, land or orbit around Pluto, the images that it will send have already captured people's imaginations.

The imaging data will not be available immediately, however, as it is transmitted at around 2 kilobits per second, taking 4.5 hours to reach Earth.

You can access the NASA New Horizons mission page here.

A one-hour live broadcast of the events on the NASA website will begin at 12.30pm UTC.

Previous Cosmos news coverage of the New Horizons mission and related material here or read more about this historic mission in our Cosmos coverage here.

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