NASA Successfully Completes Probe On Pluto

  • NASA Successfully Completes Probe On Pluto

NASA Successfully Completes Probe On Pluto

To celebrate the two-year anniversary of the $896m mission that saw a United States spacecraft fly within 12,550 kilometres of dwarf planet, NASA and the New Horizons team have used images and data sent back to Earth to create a new, highly detailed animation of Pluto's surface.

The video shows everything from ice plains to mountain ranges, and was created using "data and digital elevation models" that NASA collected during New Horizons's fly by. Maybe that's part of what makes this new Pluto flyover video from NASA so lovely. NASA has unveiled a set of detailed, high-quality global maps of Pluto and Charon. Visible to the right are blocky mountain ranges inside the plains.

It's not just Pluto that got the animated flyover treatment: the New Horizons team made a companion video for Pluto's largest moon Charon.

NASA is celebrating the second anniversary of its New Horizons' historic Pluto flyby and to mark the occasion, it has released new maps of the planet and its moon Charon.

The video ends in the far east of the encounter hemisphere, an area called Tartarus Dorsa. 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". The mosaic shows how Pluto's large-scale color patterns extend beyond the hemisphere facing New Horizons at closest approach, which were imaged at the highest resolution.

"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.

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.

New Horizons is now venturing deep into the Kuiper Belt, which is a region of icy bodies and dwarf planets like Pluto, according to NASA. It aims to pass an object labelled 2014 MU69 on January 1, 2019.