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NASA Releases New Stunning Images of Pluto Landing

Jan 23, 2017 11:47 AM EST
New Horizons Nears July 14 Flyby Of Pluto
Scientists created a video that shows Pluto "landing". The footage also showcased the copper-hued color of the dwarf planet.
(Photo : NASA/APL/SwRI via Getty Images)

What does it look like to land one of the farthest known objects on the edge of the Solar System? NASA just released stunning images of Pluto landing that present the dwarf planet in a new light.

The images show the detailed surface of Pluto as the New Horizons draw near the object. The move was done before the spacecraft proceeded further into space to observe another mysterious object location in the Kuiper belt.

NASA rendered about 100 images taken by the New Horizons spacecraft and turned it into a video, according to Space.Com. The video was colorized to highlight the surface of Pluto. Watching the video is the closest thing humans could get to the object.

It took the spacecraft about six weeks to capture the images of Pluto landing. Although the images were originally black and while, scientists manage to reveal the colors by calculating the best possible combination of hues to come up with what was perceived to be the actual colors of Pluto. In the final output, the dwarf planet appears to be a combination of red, brown, and copper colors.

Pluto's moon Charon was also seen in the beginning of the video. The trip ends with what is called a "landing" on Pluto's icy heart called Sputnik Planitia.

"Just over a year ago, Pluto was a dot in the distance," New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado said in a statement. "This video shows what it would be like to ride aboard an approaching spacecraft and see Pluto grow to become the world, and then to swoop down over its spectacular terrains as if we were approaching some future landing on them!"

Although it says "landing", the spacecraft did not actually touch the surface of the dwarf planet. The scientists who rendered the video only made it appear that it was landing in Pluto.

"The challenge in creating this movie is to make it feel like you're diving into Pluto," Constantine Tsang, a New Horizons scientist at SwRI who worked with Stern to create the movie said. "We had to interpolate some of the frames based on we know Pluto looks like to make it as smooth and seamless as possible. It's certainly fun to see this and think what it would feel like to approach a landing on Pluto!"

Despite now having touched the surface, the video showed stunning details that almost looked like New Horizons really did reach the surface.

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