It’s showtime for Pluto.
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is nearing the end of its nine-year voyage to Pluto, with just over 100 million miles to go before reaching there this July. In the meantime — starting Sunday — it will begin photographing the mysterious, unexplored, icy world once deemed a planet.
Scientists say the first pictures will reveal little more than bright dots, given New Horizons is still so far away from Pluto. But the images, taken against star fields, will help scientists gauge the remaining distance and keep the piano-sized robot on track for the historic flyby.
It is humanity’s first trip to Pluto. Launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in January 2006, New Horizons awoke from hibernation last month. It is now 3 billion miles from Earth.