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Nearly five billion kilometres from Earth, an intrepid space probe has pushed humanity’s yearning to explore the solar system to its most distant milestone yet. Pluto, a lonely outpost first spotted 85 years ago and wrapped in mystery ever since, has been visited at last.

This July 14, 2015 image provided by NASA shows Pluto's largest moon, Charon.

The Associated Press

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A close-up image of a region near Pluto’s equator reveals a range of youthful mountains rising as high as 11,000 feet (3,500 meters).


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Jim Green, NASA planetary science division director, centre, guests, and other New Horizons team members cheer the spacecraft's closest approach to Pluto.

Bill Ingalls/NASA/Getty Images

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A combination image released by NASA shows Pluto, left, and its moon, Charon, presented in colourized form to make differences in surface material and features easier to see.

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics

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These images show the difference between two sets of 48 combined 10-second exposures with New Horizons' long range reconnaissance imager (LORRI) camera, taken June 26, 2015, from a range of 21.5 million kilometers (approximately 13 million miles) to Pluto. The known small moons, Nix, Hydra, Kerberos and Styx, are visible as adjacent bright and dark pairs of dots, due to their motion in the 105 minutes between the two image sets.

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics

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New Horizons is depicted in this artist's concept as it flies by Pluto. American astronomer Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto, which was once called the ninth planet in our solar system, in 1930.

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New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), in Boulder, Colo., left; Johns Hopkins University applied physics laboratory (APL) director Ralph Semmel, centre, and New Horizons co-investigator Will Grundy of the Lowell Observatory hold a print of a U.S. stamp with their suggested update after the New Horizons spacecraft successfully made its closest approach to Pluto.

Bill Ingalls/The Associated Press

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The New Horizons spacecraft lifted off aboard an Atlas V rocket way back on Jan. 19, 2006.

NASA/Getty Images

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Scientists pose with a model of the New Horizons probe at the Johns Hopkins University applied physics laboratory in Laurel, Md.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP / Getty Images

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This July 13, 2015 image shows Pluto as seen from the New Horizons spacecraft.

NASA/The Associated Press

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