The first spacecraft to visit distant Pluto, a dwarf planet in the solar system’s frozen backyard, is still three months away from a close encounter, but already in viewing range, newly released photos show.

The New Horizons probe blasted off from Florida in January 2006 for a 3-billion-mile (5-billion-km) journey to the Kuiper Belt region of the solar system located beyond Neptune.

During that time, Pluto once known as the ninth planet in the solar system, was demoted to dwarf planet status after the discovery of similar icy bodies in eccentric, distant orbits around the sun.

New Horizons will pass about 7,750 miles(12,500 km) from Pluto’s surface on July 14.

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