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NASA's Pluto-bound spacecraft captures image of Neptune

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Digital writers

Tuesday, August 26, 2014, 12:09 PM - NASA's Pluto-bound spacecraft captured a stunning image of the planet Neptune.

SEE ALSO: Mars takes a harsh toll from robot explorers.

"The sophisticated piano-sized spacecraft, which launched in January 2006, reached Neptune’s orbit -- nearly 2.75 billion miles from Earth -- in a record eight years and eight months," NASA said Monday. "New Horizons’ milestone matches precisely the 25th anniversary of the historic encounter of NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft with Neptune on Aug. 25, 1989."

“It’s a cosmic coincidence that connects one of NASA’s iconic past outer solar system explorers, with our next outer solar system explorer,” said Jim Green, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Exactly 25 years ago at Neptune, Voyager 2 delivered our ‘first’ look at an unexplored planet. Now it will be New Horizons' turn to reveal the unexplored Pluto and its moons in stunning detail next summer on its way into the vast outer reaches of the solar system.”

New Horizons is on its way to becoming the first craft to make a close encounter with the unexplored Pluto in July 2015.

"After 10 years and more than 3 billion miles, on a historic voyage that has already taken it over the storms and around the moons of Jupiter, New Horizons will shed light on new kinds of worlds on the outskirts of the solar system," NASA says.

With files from NASA

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