NASA Unveils New Maps of Pluto, Moon Charon for Flyby Anniversary

18 July, 2017, 00:09 | Author: Bridget Leonard
  • NASA Unveils New Maps of Pluto, Moon Charon for Flyby Anniversary

The New Horizons spacecraft continues to send data back to Earth, from which composite maps such as this one of Pluto's largest moon, Charon, can be formed.

The scientists used the actual New Horizon data and the new advanced elevation models of Pluto planet together with its biggest moon, Charon, to produce stunning movies that gives spectacular new outlook of many unusual features that were discovery earlier.

It's not just Pluto that got the animated flyover treatment: the New Horizons team made a companion video for Pluto's largest moon Charon.

The surface colors of Pluto and Charon also have been enhanced to bring out detail, NASA said.

The epic Pluto flyby captured the new and completely incredible horizon.


From there, the flyby footage passes over Sputnik's western border with Cthulhu Macula, which is a dark, craters region located within the nearby highlands. To celebrate the anniversary, scientists released detailed maps of both Pluto and Charon.

As the tour moves north, the rugged and fractured highlands of Voyager Terra can be seen before we head over Pioneer Terra and the bladed terrain of Tartarus Dorsa, in the far east of the encounter hemisphere.

Among other things, New Horizons took pictures of Pluto's mountains and plains, capturing the dwarf planet's "heart", which according to Nasa, is "about the same distance as from Denver to Chicago".

"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. It is venturing deeper into the distant mysterious Kuiper Belt to reach its next target. The spacecraft will zoom past a Kuiper Belt object known as 2014 MU69 in January 2019.

To celebrate the two-year anniversary of the $896m mission that saw a U.S. spacecraft fly within 12,550 kilometres of dwarf planet, NASA and the New Horizons team have used images and data sent back to Earth to create a new, highly detailed animation of Pluto's surface.

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