NASA scientists create spectacular flyover video of Pluto's moon Charon

Happy Anniversary New Horizons! Probe Flew by Pluto 2 Years Ago Today

The second flyover sends us to Pluto's largest moon Charon.

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.

On July 14, 2015, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft made its historic flight through the Pluto system. Pluto's giant, informally named Sputnik Planitia glacier - the left half of Pluto's signature "heart" feature - is at the center of this map.

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

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.

For example, topographic relief was exaggerated by a factor of two to three and certain surface colors were enhanced, according to NASA. The tour also passes over the rugged hills of Voyager Terra and the pitted Pioneer Terra before ending over Tartarus Dorsa in the east, the agency said. Then the view shifts to the north, passing over Dorothy Gale crater and Mordor Macula, the icy region at Charon's north pole, before turning south to Oz Terra, Vulcan Planum and Clarke Montes. To celebrate the anniversary, scientists released detailed maps of both Pluto and Charon.

NASA used data collected by the New Horizons spacecraft during its flyby of Pluto in 2015 to create a video detailing the icy dwarf planet's surface. North is up; Pluto's equator roughly bisects the band of dark red terrains running across the lower third of the map.

"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.

"Everywhere we turn are new mysteries".

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.

The probe is due to complete a flyby of a small celestial object called 2014 MU69 on January 1, 2019.



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