NEW YORK (Sputnik) — The New Horizons spacecraft has reached Pluto and made its first transmissions to Earth, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said in a statement.
“Spacecraft signal reaches earth. Successful Pluto flyby confirmed,” NASA stated on Tuesday.
The first transmissions from New Horizons were high-resolution photos of Pluto’s surface, which appeared “peppered with impact craters” that are “perhaps several billion years old,” NASA said.
The probe made contact with flight controllers just after 1:00 a.m. (GMT) on Wednesday morning.
It will take a total of 16 months for ‘New Horizons’ to send its ten years’ worth of cache of data back to Earth.
NASA Project Manager Glen Fountain said that the New Horizons has reached its goal after nearly 15 years of planning, constructing and flying the spacecraft across the solar system, and the bounty of what it collected is about to unfold.
NASA said the probe is part of several discovery and scientific research missions to help plan sending US astronauts to Mars in the 2030s.