Published: Mon, July 17, 2017
Life&Culture | By Rose Hansen

NASA releases New Horizons flyover video

NASA releases New Horizons flyover video

A never-before-seen fly-by video of Pluto has been released by NASA using compiled data from the nearly $900m New Horizons mission. The only bummer is there's no audio - I'd recommend Elton John's "Rocket Man" or R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly" if you want some soothing, appropriately themed background tunes.

The topographic relief is exaggerated by a factor of two to three times in these movies to emphasize topography; the surface colors of Pluto and Charon also have been enhanced to bring out detail.

Formed in 1958, NASA is one of the preeminent space agencies now in operation, is the only organization to land astronauts on the surface of the Moon, to carry out extended missions on the planet Mars and more.

"This dramatic Pluto flyover begins over the highlands to the south-west of the great expanse of nitrogen ice plain informally named Sputnik Planitia", said NASA.

As a result, viewers are offered new, stunning perspectives of Pluto and Charon depicting unusual features discovered in New Horizons images over the past two years.

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Now, for the spacecraft's one-year anniversary of its Pluto flyby, NASA has released two new videos based on digital elevation models and New Horizons' data of both Pluto and Charon.

The new maps have revealed their complex terrain.

"The complexity of the Pluto system - from its geology to its satellite system to its atmosphere - has been beyond our wildest imagination", said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. Little is known about the Kuiper Belt since its existence was predicted by Dutch-American astronomer Gerard Kuiper in 1973, and New Horizons is expected to go far into the region, at least a billion miles beyond the orbit of Neptune, the planet furthest from the Sun in the solar system.

The New Horizons spacecraft may have moved on from Pluto, making a long march to the Kuiper Belt, but we're still deep in the process of analyzing the data it sent back. It aims to pass an object labelled 2014 MU69 on January 1, 2019.

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