Mission to Pluto Is Like a Next-Gen Voyager

Yesterday, a cosmic coincidence brought together two spacecraft. One, a veteran cosmic explorer, is hurtling ever outward toward the hinterlands of the solar system. The curtain is still waiting to rise on the other, a relative youngster that will soon be stepping into the spotlight.

On August 25, the Pluto-destined New Horizons spacecraft crossed Neptune's orbit -- 25 years to the day after its elder sibling, Voyager 2, swooped in for a close look at the big, blue ice giant and its curious, geyser-spewing moon.

That cosmic collusion of events helps mark the passing of a torch from one generation of space explorers to another, scientists ...

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