Two years ago, on July 14, 2015, NASA’s New Horizons made headlines all around the world as it became the first space probe to explore Pluto up close – more precisely, it flew 7,800 miles (12,500 km) above the surface of the planet. While the fearless spacecraft has traveled more distance and time than any other space mission in history – over 3 billion miles in more than 9 years – its work didn’t stop with the flyby of Pluto. With its mission officially extended in 2016, the probe is on its way to its next target: MU69, a mysterious Kuiper Belt Object that’s already baffling scientists. To celebrate New Horizons’ achievements and wish it good luck for the adventure ahead, we have created a timeline of its journey to Pluto and beyond.
The New Horizons Timeline illustrates the spacecraft’s expedition to Pluto from its launch to the close encounter with the planet, while also including a few details regarding the extended mission to MU69. After flying by Jupiter for gravity assist, the probe spent most of its voyage in hibernation in order to reduce wear and tear. During this long sleep, the spacecraft did wake up for a few weeks a year to have its systems checked and instruments calibrated. Not only did hibernation preserve the probe’s onboard systems, but it also freed up NASA’s communication and tracking resources for other missions.
The New Horizons chronology was created with Office Timeline, an intuitive PowerPoint add-in that allows users to create impressive timelines, Gantt charts and other visuals for academic or business presentations. While the free edition of the app is fully functional and can be used to build simple PowerPoint visuals fast, the Plus version unlocks powerful features that enable users to build stunning, uniquely-customized graphics in just a few minutes.
Download the New Horizons Timeline for PowerPoint here.