NASA spacecraft makes closest approach to Pluto
LAUREL, United States - Agence France-Presse
Members of the New Horizons science team react to seeing the spacecraft's last and sharpest image of Pluto before closest approach later in the day, Tuesday, July 14, 2015, at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland. AP PhotosAn unmanned NASA spacecraft whizzed by Pluto on July 14, making its closest approach in the climax of a decade-long journey to explore the dwarf planet for the first time, the US space agency said.
"The New Horizons spacecraft passes its closest approach mark at Pluto after a three billion mile journey," a NASA commentator said as spectators waved flags in a crowded room at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Center outside the US capital, Washington.
The flyby happened at 7:49 am (1149 GMT), with the spacecraft running on auto-pilot.
NASA expects to receive a signal from the spacecraft later this evening to find out whether or not the spacecraft survived the encounter.
Experts said there was a one in 10,000 chance that the baby grand piano-sized spacecraft could collide with debris in the region beyond Neptune, known as the Kuiper Belt.