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Mendeley report highlights Pluto mission research

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After more than nine years and nearly three billion miles travelled, NASA’s New Horizons mission reached its objective at 12.49 BST on July 14, and made its closest approach to Pluto. A report developed by Mendeley celebrates this historic achievement, and highlights the contributions made by scientists around the world to launching and learning from space missions.

New Horizons: From Research Paper to Pluto takes an in-depth look at the history of the New Horizons mission, providing a variety of graphics and diagrams to illustrate the probe’s payload, as well as an analysis of scientific output and research trends. It also provides comparisons to similar missions, such as Cassini-Huygens, launched in 1997 to visit Saturn, and Ulysses, a robotic probe launched in 1990 to study the Sun.  

Using data from Scopus, SciVal, ScienceDirect and NewsFlo to examine the literature produced around missions, as well as the ways in which these papers are connected via citation and theme, the report aims to build a better understanding of the amount of effort that goes into space exploration.

'The achievements of this mission, and of other deep-space missions that have gone before, would not be possible were it not for the dedication of thousands of researchers working tirelessly to turn science fiction into science fact,' said Jan Reichelt, Mendeley co-founder. 'This new report recognises this momentous occasion and clearly demonstrates the value of scientific research in advancing human knowledge and space exploration.'

In terms of data and learnings output, this has the potential to become one of the most significant missions ever launched by NASA. 241 research articles on New Horizons have already been published since mission approval in 2001 and we can expect this to increase substantially over the next two years.