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New Horizons Captures Clearest Image Of Pluto's 'White Whale' As It Begins Flyby

09/07/2015 12:30 BST | Updated 09/07/2015 12:59 BST

pluto

Hidden for over 4.5 billion years, New Horizons has managed to capture this astonishing image from a distance of over 8 million kilometres.

The NASA spacecraft is edging ever closer to the 14 July when it will be at its closest point to the dwarf planet and its respective moons.

It has taken New Horizons over nine years to get here and has travelled over three billion miles in order to give scientists their clearest look at the mysterious planet that sits on the furthest edges of our Solar System.

While images of Pluto have been seen before, the planet has remain notoriously shy from telescopes, so this image has unsurprisingly caused something of a stir among the astronomical community.

This image is just the start though, when New Horizons reaches its closest point the tiny spacecraft will be able to send back pictures with images that are 500x clearer than what you're seeing now.

While the 10-year mission is obviously focused around Pluto, the team at NASA have built the spacecraft to survive long after it passes the planet.

pluto

This was Pluto taken by New Horizons just four months ago.

Extra fuel has been included along with solar panels that are designed to work in far lower light levels than can be found at Pluto's extreme range.

The hope is that New Horizons will be able to go deep into the Kuiper Belt where it'll use its long-range communications system to send back new data on what lies beyond.

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