A portrait of Pluto (right) and its moon Charon in a colorized, composite image made July 11 during the final approach of the New Horizons spacecraft. Astronomers are eager to get a much closer view of the icy world Tuesday. NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI hide caption

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Stars over the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. Sheppard and Trujillo used the new Dark Energy Camera (DECam) on a telescope there to find the distant dwarf planet 2012 VP 113. Reidar Hahn/Fermilab hide caption

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In this artist concept provided by NASA, the MAVEN spacecraft approaches Mars on a mission to study its upper atmosphere. AP hide caption

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An illustration of what the Philae lander will look like at work on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. AOES Medialab/ESA hide caption

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Part of the ALMA array on the Chajnantor plateau of Chile points skyward to the Milky Way, our own galaxy. The center of our galaxy is visible as a yellowish bulge crossed by dark lanes, which are themselves huge clouds of interstellar dust. José Francisco Salgado/ESO hide caption

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Your direct connection with the stars and all of the space in between them. iStockphoto.com hide caption

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Even if we find other life out there, in the depths of space, life here will still be a rare gem that must be worshipped and preserved at all costs. ESO hide caption

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A bubble in space: Abell 39 marks the death of a star like the sun. Wind from the aging central star pushes into the surrounding interstellar gas, building up a dense shell that glows blue in this image. After 36 years of travel, the Voyager spacecraft is just now reaching the edge of the sun's own wind-blown bubble. WIYN/NOAO/NSF hide caption

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This artist rendering provided by NASA shows Voyager 1 at the edge of the solar system. AP hide caption

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Will we need to tread lightly, in deference to the locals, when finally do make it to Mars? Pat Rawlings/SAIC/NASA hide caption

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On its way to Jupiter, the Galileo spacecraft looked back and captured this remarkable view of Earth and the moon. The image was taken from a distance of about 3.9 million miles. NASA hide caption

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