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Discovery to take viewers to Pluto in a global special

MUMBAI: Infotainment broadcaster Discovery has announced a new one-hour special that follows Nasa on the first encounter to the hotly debated former planet Pluto.

Discovery’s Dr. Dan Riskin anchors from mission central in Maryland.

Produced by Canada’s Exploration Production, ‘Pluto: First Encounter’ will air first in Canada on 15 July and then across Discovery International networks in dozens of countries around the world including India, the UK, Scandinavia, China, Australia, South America, and the US.

Viewers are invited to follow Pluto’s progress via Discovery.ca and through social platforms using #PlutoFlyBy.

“Pluto is an outlier in every sense of the word. It has a tilted orbit, a giant moon locked into a static spot in the sky, and four more exotic moons spinning around in chaos. Everything we know about Pluto is already super-weird, and we haven’t even seen it up close yet. This is going to be amazing,” said Riskin.

Moving at breakneck speeds to the edge of the solar system for nearly a decade, the mission to Pluto is less than a month away from mankind’s closest approach to the mysterious and contentious dwarf planet. The special joins the New Horizons’ epic quest led by NASA as the spacecraft completes its flyby, capturing first-ever images of the icy dwarf planet and its moons.

The special chronicles the journey that will bring the former ninth planet into focus. Could this encounter reignite the debate over Pluto’s planetary status or will seeing Pluto up close give greater importance to dwarf planets spinning at the edge of the solar system five billion kilometres away? This dramatic mission will shed new light on the former ninth planet, promising fresh clues about the birth of our solar system and perhaps life on earth.

The special is a chance at solving a mystery – an outcome that might give new understanding of Pluto’s relevance in the solar system and potentially life on earth. Nasa’s New Horizons mission launched in 2006, a piano-sized spacecraft that became the fastest ever launched, reaching the moon in just nine hours – ten times faster than any Apollo mission. The hurtling craft reached Jupiter in slightly more than a year when other missions took more than six. For nearly a decade, New Horizons has been travelling at breakneck speeds, racing to the very edges of the solar system to a region of space known as the Kuiper Belt, where the icy relics of the solar system drift. These relics, thought to carry the beginnings of life, provide clues to how the solar system’s bigger planets formed. Viewers will be presented with opinions and perspectives from those who are steadfast in championing Pluto as a ninth planet, as well as those staunchly opposed.