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As New Horizons Speeds Toward Pluto, We Revisit Its Gorgeous Jupiter Pics
Pluto won’t be the only world the New Horizons spacecraft gets a good look at.
In 2007, New Horizons caught an angry volcano in the act of exploding. Blasting plumes of material 180 miles into the sky, the volcano is called Tvashtar — and it’s located on Io, one of Jupiter’s four largest moons.
Why Jupiter? Even though New Horizons is the fastest spacecraft ever launched, it needed a bit of help on its 3-billion-mile journey to Pluto. As the spacecraft swung around Jupiter, it used the planet’s gravity as a speed booster and ultimately shaved almost four years off its total travel time to Pluto. (Learn more about the historic mission to Pluto on the National Geographic Channel.)