(Photo: NASA/APL/SwRI via Getty Images
(Photo: NASA/APL/SwRI via Getty Images

After Nasa's New Horizons spacecraft made a successful fly-past of Pluto, the space agency has released a gif of its progress photographing the dwarf planet over the years.

The craft "phoned home" from nearly three billion miles away after it passed within 7,700 miles of Pluto.

Professor Stephen Hawking and US president Barack Obama have hailed the scientists behind the probe, which completed the closest encounter with the dwarf planet ever achieved.

The $720 million (£461 million) probe is the size of a baby grand piano and, after launching on January 19 2006, it reached an Earth-relative velocity of 36,373mph, making it the fastest space vehicle in history.

Personally, although nowhere near as scientifically accurate, we think this gif by Imgur user BennuBird is just as touching as Nasa’s:

:(

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