NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has made the first visit to Pluto, speeding past at 14km per second.
The probe shot past at more than 28,000mph (45,000 km/h) at 12.49pm BST (7.49am ET) on a trajectory that brought the fastest spacecraft ever to leave Earth’s orbit within 7,770 miles of Pluto’s surface.
The moment, played out on Tuesday to the sound of The Final Countdown by the 1980s glam metal band Europe, marked a historic achievement for the US, which can now claim to be the only nation to have visited every planet in the classical solar system.
British cosmologist Stephen Hawking has sent his congratulations to the team behind the successful New Horizons mission.
In a message recorded before the signal was received, and broadcast on NASA TV, Hawking said:
“Now the solar system will be further opened up to us, revealing the secrets of distant Pluto.
We explore because we are human and we want to know. I hope that Pluto will help us on that journey.”
Watch the video below to see how cool Pluto is!