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Undergraduate student Chad Melton witnessed history this week as  NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft conducted a flyby of Pluto, giving humankind its first-ever up-close look of the dwarf planet and its five moons.

Melton, a senior geology major, was present at the New Horizons operations center in the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Columbia, Maryland, for the historic encounter Tuesday. Melton took some photos to document his experience:

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Chad Melton at the New Horizons operations center
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A crowd gathers to watch as the New Horizons spacecraft makes its closest approach to Pluto on Tuesday.
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A countdown screen is displayed as onlookers wait for the historic moment.