NASA scientists have created a video that shows what it is like to land on Pluto, using over 100 images taken by the New Horizons spacecraft over six weeks of approach and close flyby in 2015.
The video offers a trip down onto the surface of Pluto – starting with a distant view of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon – and leading up to an eventual ride in for a “landing” on the shoreline of Pluto’s informally named Sputnik Planitia.
To create a movie that makes viewers feel as if they are diving into Pluto, scientists had to interpolate some of the black and white frames based on what they know Pluto looks like to make it as smooth and seamless as possible.
Low-resolution colour from the Ralph colour camera aboard New Horizons was then draped over the frames to give the best available, actual colour simulation of what it would look like to descend from high altitude to Pluto’s surface.
After a 9.5-year voyage covering more than three billion miles, New Horizons flew through the Pluto system on July 14 in 2015, coming within 12,500 kilometres of Pluto.
Carrying powerful telescopic cameras that could spot features smaller than a football field, New Horizons sent back hundreds of images of Pluto and its moons that show how dynamic and fascinating their surfaces are.