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NASA Shows What It Is like to Land on Pluto in New Video to Celebrate Pluto Flyby Anniversary

Jul 18, 2016 02:34 AM EDT
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NASA made good use of images taken during New Horizons Pluto Flyby in July 2015 and created a simulation to show what it's like to land on Pluto and it is nothing short of amazing.

The New Horizons traveled for nine years to reach the dwarf planet located at the edge of the Solar System. To create the Pluto landing simulation, NASA used 100 images taken by the spacecraft in a span of six weeks during its approach to the celestial body. The flyby is the closest a spacecraft has been in Pluto, and the next mission is expected to physically land on the dwarf planet to explore its icy surface, surpassing the flyby record set by New Horizons.

The video will enable people on Earth to see what it is like to approach the farthest dwarf planet recognized yet that orbits the Sun just like Earth. This video offers a fascinating view of the spacecraft's "trip" to Pluto. 

In the beginning of the video, Pluto's moon Charon can be seen orbiting the body. The video then zoomed in into Pluto's icy shore known as the Sputnik Planum. "Just over a year ago, Pluto was just a dot in the distance," New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern said in a statement. "This video shows what it would be like to ride aboard an approaching spacecraft and see Pluto grow to become a world, and then to swoop down over its spectacular terrains as if we were approaching some future landing," Stern added.

The video simulation was released to commemorate Pluto flyby anniversary that took place on July 14, 2015. The New Horizons spacecraft flew three billion miles for nine and a half years to reach its destination. The powerful telescopic camera aboard the spacecraft enables New Horizons to collect tons of scientific data that revealed secrets of Pluto. New Horizons paved the way to discover and explain Pluto's Icy Heart and its jagged icy shores. Some data gathered by the mission also ignited more research on the possible ocean hidden underneath Pluto's frozen surface that could potentially hold life.

"New Horizons not only completed the era of first reconnaissance of the planets, the mission has intrigued and inspired," Nasa's Director of Planetary Science Jim Green said in a statement published by Daily Mail. "Who knew that Pluto would have a heart? Even today, New Horizons captures our imagination, rekindles our curiosity, and reminds us of what's possible," Greed added.

The New Horizons mission has already beamed back 80 percent of its stored data to Earth and will continue to provide new knowledge by sending the remaining data. The spacecraft was recently approved for an extended mission to perform a study towards an object in the Kuiper Belt beyond Pluto. The spacecraft will approach the object located on the edge of the Solar System by 2019.

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