Passing the Planets


As New Horizons passed each planet's orbit on the way to Pluto, check where the planet was when our intrepid spacecraft zoomed by.

Passing the Orbit of Neptune

New Horizons crossed the orbit of Neptune at 10:04 p.m. EDT on August 25, 2014, with the spacecraft nearly 2.75 billion miles (4.4 billion kilometers) from Earth. New Horizons, which launched in January 2006, reached Neptune’s orbit distance in record time. Neptune itself was 2.48 billion miles (nearly 4 billion kilometers) from New Horizons – nearly 27 times the distance between the Earth and our Sun – at the time. New Horizons, which was “awake” for its annual checkout, snapped some long-distance photos of Neptune and its planet-sized moon Triton on July 10, 2014.

The orbit crossing coincided with another significant exploration milestone – the 25th anniversary of Voyager 2’s historic encounter with Neptune on August 25, 1989.


Next up: Pluto

New Horizons encounters the Pluto system – its main target – with close approach to Pluto on July 14, 2015.

The computer-generated images above are simulated views of New Horizons' location in the solar system. The images were created using the Satellite Tool Kit (STK) software, which was developed by Analytical Graphics, Inc.

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