NASA Pluto Probe Begins Observations

NASA spacecraft New Horizons entered the first stage in its approach to Pluto on Thursday, in a mission that is expected to be the first close-up of the far away dwarf planet. The spacecraft first blasted off in 2006, when Pluto was still considered a planet, and has so far traveled 3 billion miles to begin collecting scientific data and shooting photos to shed light on Pluto and its five moons. The piano-size probe awoke from its hibernation period last month and will begin snapping photos of Pluto on Jan. 25. New Horizons is expected to have its closest encounter with the dwarf planet on July 14—4.67 billion miles from Earth.