In space history, July 14, 2015, marked the date of the closest yet encounter between a human-made spacecraft, NASA’s New Horizons, and Pluto, the dwarf planet. To celebrate the two years anniversary of this event, NASA released two new videos. One of them presents the Pluto flyby, while the other gets up close and personal with Charon, its largest moon.
Two Years Since Pluto Flyby Marked by Release of Two Videos
Pluto, the former ninth planet, current dwarf planet was discovered in 1930. Since then, and up to two years ago, its best imagery was no better than a mass of blurred pixels. This all changed following the July 14, 2015, encounter between the planet and New Horizons.
The NASA spacecraft zoomed in to within 7,800 miles of Pluto and managed to capture and beam back the first ever clear and detailed images of this world. They also revealed the presence of the Sputnik Planitia. This natural formation’s shape resembles either a heart or the character Pluto from Disney’s classic Mickey Mouse.
One of the newly released videos places the viewer aboard the New Horizons during its Pluto flyby and begins over the rugged highlands situated in the southwest of the Sputnik Planitia. This 620 miles wide plain of nitrogen ice still has many secrets left to reveal, according to newer studies.
Pluto’s video ends over the “bladed terrain” of the Tartarus Dorsa, which is in encounter hemisphere’s far east.
The other video offers a closer look at Charon, which is the largest of the five known moons of Pluto. This 750 miles wide satellite is also considered to form a binary system with its parent planet.
Charon is now known to host a huge canyon, titled the Serenity Chasma. This is estimated to be some 1,000 miles long and to present areas twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. The video ends over the Clarke Montes “moated mountains” and the Vulcan Planum.
The videos, although accurate, have nonetheless been enhanced. NASA states that:
“The topographic relief is exaggerated by a factor of two to three times in these movies to emphasize topography; the surface colors of Pluto and Charon also have been enhanced to bring out detail.”
Image Source: Flickr
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