wnol.info January 22 2018

NASA's spectacular flyover video transports you to Pluto

January 22 2018, 08:32 | Guillermo Bowen

Science Image Source Kevin M. Gill

Science								Image Source Kevin M. Gill

The two-minute video combines New Horizons data with digital models of Pluto's elevations and turns them into a visual experience that makes you feel like you're zipping along with the intrepid spacecraft. Collecting over 50 gigabits of data during the encounter it took more than a year to transmit all the information back to Earth and scientists are still poring through it.

NASA also unveiled new maps of Pluto and Charon last week to commemorate the spacecraft's July 14, 2015 flyby of the dwarf planet and its satellites, which brought the probe to within 7,800 miles (12,550 kilometers) of Pluto's surface and allowed it to capture the first-ever up-close pics of the system - not to mention a considerable amount of game-changing scientific data.

The new images reveal that Pluto has several layers to its global atmospheric haze, which according to Nasa, "creates a twilight effect that softly illuminates nightside terrain near sunset".

NASA released a new video on Friday that takes viewers on a stunning flyover across Pluto's scenic craggy mountains and wide plains.

It then passes over the western margin of Sputnik, where it borders the dark, cratered terrain of Cthulhu Macula, with the blocky mountain ranges located within the plains seen on the right.

The equally exciting flight over Charon begins high over the hemisphere New Horizons saw on its closest approach, then descends over the deep, wide canyon of Serenity Chasma.

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.

In July 2015, when New Horizons sent the first close-up pictures of Pluto and its moon, NASA said in a statement, it inspired many to wonder "what a flight over the distant worlds' icy terrain might be like". 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". To celebrate the anniversary, scientists released detailed maps of both Pluto and Charon.

"Everywhere we turn are new mysteries", Stern said.

Other news