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Astronomer's Ashes Nearing Icy World He Discovered: Pluto

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Posted at 8:53 PM, Jul 12, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-30 16:48:58-04

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- Come Tuesday, Clyde Tombaugh was set to pass within 7,800 miles of the icy world he discovered 85 years ago.

His ashes have been flying on NASA's New Horizons spacecraft on humanity's first journey to Pluto.

New Horizons has also been carrying a 1991 U.S. postage stamp that's about to become obsolete. The stamp trumpeted "Pluto Not Yet Explored." Also on board were two state quarters, one for Florida, home to the launch site, and the other for Maryland, headquarters for the spacecraft developers and flight control.

In all, nine small mementos have been tucked aboard New Horizons.

There's a good reason there are nine.

When New Horizons rocketed away from Cape Canaveral in 2006, Pluto was the ninth planet in our solar system. It was demoted to a dwarf planet seven months later. 

(Copyright 2015 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)