This story was originally published on July 14, 2015.
Scientists got their most up-close and personal look at a world very far away from Earth Tuesday when NASA's New Horizons spacecraft buzzed by the dwarf planet Pluto, snapping images and sending data 3 billion miles back to Earth.
Despite being discovered in 1930, Pluto had only been glimpsed previously through the high-powered Hubble space telescope. But the New Horizons spacecraft, a vehicle the size of a baby grand piano with an antenna on top, passed within 7,000 miles — about the distance between New York and Mumbai — of Pluto on Tuesday.
"Planet exploration is not for the squeamish or the impatient. The spacecraft took four years to build, and then we launched it on an Atlas 5 rocket. It was the fastest spacecraft launched, and it still took nine and a half years to get out there. So it's not something we are going to launch on Monday and see on Wednesday," Dr. Randii Wessen of Jet Propulsion Laboratories (JPL) told Refinery29.