Nasa scientists held a news conference on 14 April 2015 to discuss the spacecraft New Horizons as it approaches Pluto.

No spacecraft has ever visited Pluto. Scientists are hoping that will change on 14 July, when Nasa's New Horizons probe is expected to fly within 6,200 miles of the dwarf planet after a nine-year journey.

During the briefing, scientists showed the probe's first colour photos of Pluto and its moon Charon. Alan Stern, a New Horizons scientist, spoke about the historic project with excitement.

"This is a small, compact, highly advanced spacecraft. A real 21st century exploration spacecraft with tremendous capability, that's in almost, almost the most wonderful place you can ever imagine you can be as a scientist," Stern said.

"The spacecraft is in perfect health, it's full of fuel and it's carrying a scientific arsenal of seven instruments that are combined the most powerful suite of scientific instruments ever brought to bear on the first reconnaissance of a new planet. Nothing like this has been done in a quarter century and nothing like this is planned by any space agency, ever again. This is a real moment in time."

Stern said that next month, as New Horizons nears Pluto, it will start taking the most detailed photos ever seen of it. The craft will begin sending back atmospheric data on Pluto in May, and data on the dwarf planet's surface composition in June.