NASA releases close up videos of Pluto’s surface
On the 14th July 2015, just over 2 years ago, NASA made history with their fly by of Pluto. After 9 years of waiting, and 3 billion miles of space to get through, it all paid off.
While NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft wasn’t able to get to Pluto’s surface, they were still given spectacular results. The dwarf planet’s surface was seen as never before.
We now know how diverse its surface is, with its massive water-ice mountain ranges and glaciers of molecular nitrogen ice. Not only this, but we also got a look at its massive moon.
Pluto is extremely cold and sits around 40 times further from the sun than the earth. It was once considered the furtherest planet in our solar system, but that’s no longer the case.
Since Pluto is only half as wide as the United States, it is now officially recognised as a dwarf planet instead.
The video above is a very accurate rendering of Pluto’s surface, based on the data that NASA has gathered from their flyby. Highlands, mountains and deep pits are clearly visible.
Some surface colours in the video have been enhanced just to emphasize some of Pluto’s unique characteristics, according to NASA. I imagine it’s a lot more grey really.
Not only have NASA given us that, but they’ve also provided a similar video for Pluto’s largest moon, Charon.
It’s not as much of a sight as Pluto, in all honesty. It’s very moon-like, in the way it’s coated with craters and canyons. Still interesting to see though, considering where it is.
NASA has also released a couple of highly detailed maps and illustrations of Pluto and Charos which are worth checking out. It’s amazing how much we’ve learnt from a simple flyby.
“The complexity of the Pluto system — from its geology to its satellite system to its atmosphere— has been beyond our wildest imagination,
“Everywhere we turn are new mysteries.”
– Alan Stern, Investigator for New Horizons Spacecraft
I never thought I’d see this type of thing in my life time. Pluto is so far from our Earth, who’d have thought we’d ever get such close images of its surface?
We can only go forward from here. I wonder what NASA’s next breakthrough will be?
Want to know what planets are visible tonight? Jenny from Hobby Help has made an awesome guide to the night sky for 2019 which you can find here.