NASA eyes Pluto orbiter mission after discoveries ‘make compelling case’ ...

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The American space agency has channelled funds into a research project to determine the feasibility and costs of such a journey. In a statement, the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonia, Texas, said it was working on the study. Researchers will build the spacecraft required for the mission and carry out cost and risk assessments for the new technologies.

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The institute said data retrieved on the previous trip “made a compelling case for a follow-up mission”. 

News of the study emerged a week after Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine called for Pluto to have its planet status returned. 

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) downgraded the status to drawf planet in 2006. 

nasa-pluto-mission-scienceNASA's previous mission to Pluto retrieved photos in 2015 (Image: GETTY)

nasa-pluto-scienceA picture of Pluto taken in 2015 (Image: GETTY)

The July 2015 fly-by mission was carried out by New Horizons, NASA’s interplanetary space probe which is managed by SwRI. 

Breathtaking images of Pluto which is located in the solar system’s Kuiper Belt were sent back to Earth. 

The statement read: “The study is one of 10 different mission studies that NASA is sponsoring to prepare for the next Planetary Science Decadal Survey.  

READ MORE: NASA news: Is Pluto a planet after all? NASA chief in major row

nasa-pluto-scienceMountains can be seen in pictures of Pluto taken in 2015 (Image: PA)

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“The results of these

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