NASA release new Pluto flyby video from New Horizons mission

Jul 18, 2017, 00:10
NASA release new Pluto flyby video from New Horizons mission

Nasa has just released a number of stunning photos and videos of Pluto and its largest moon Charon, taken by the New Horizons probe during its historic flyby in 2015.

New Horizons has moved on from Pluto and is now flying deeper into the Kuiper Belt, a vast area filled with icy bodies out beyond Neptune's orbit.

The first video (below) shows Pluto's highlands, mountain ranges and deep pits; its great stretch of nitrogen ice; the western margin of Sputnik; the dark, cratered terrain called Cthulhu Macula, and more. Visible to the right are blocky mountain ranges inside the plains.

It's been two years since NASA's research spacecraft, New Horizons, zoomed past Pluto on its never-ending voyage into space. The zoomed camera shows the planet's icy plains and stunning mountain ranges, revealing its fantastic bladed terrain in further details exhibiting deep and broad pits. The flyover concludes at Tartarus Dorsa.

The digitally rendered videos are color enhanced to highlight certain details, and NASA note the topography is enhanced by a factor of two to three to emphasize the forms of the landscape. All the names of Pluto and Charon are informal and pull from science fiction and fantasy sources like "Star Trek" and "Lord of the Rings".

Lasting slightly over one minute, the Charon flyover video begins with a distant view, then comes closer, sweeping over Serenity Chasma, a deep, wide canyon. "These new maps. will help unravel these mysteries".

"I think the most surprising thing [to come out of New Horizons] is how complex that little planet is", the mission's principal investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Institute in Colorado, told Space.com on the flyby's two-year anniversary.

The probe captured the first-ever close-up pictures after coming within 7,800 miles (12,550km) of the dwarf planet back in July 2015, providing us Earthlings with a whole new perspective of the icy rock at the edge of our solar system.

The spacecraft will on January 1, 2019 will get closer to a Kuiper Belt object known as 2014 MU69, NASA said.

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