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A Colorful “Landing” on Pluto from NASA

25 Jan 2017, 4:05 pm

What would it be like to actually land on Pluto? NASA recently released a short video that shows just what it might look like to approach and land on the surface of dwarf planet. NASA says, “This movie was made from more than 100 images taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft over six weeks of approach and close flyby in the summer of 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.” The video gives a never-before-seen view of the details down on the surface of the planet.

NASA says, “To create a movie that makes viewers feel as if they’re diving into Pluto, mission scientists had to interpolate some of the panchromatic (black and white) frames based on what they know Pluto looks like to make it as smooth and seamless as possible. Low-resolution color from the Ralph color camera aboard New Horizons was then draped over the frames to give the best available, actual color simulation of what it would look like to descend from high altitude to Pluto’s surface.”

The New Horizons mission to Pluto took 9.5-years covering more than three billion miles. The space craft flew by Pluto on July 14, 2015, coming within 7,800 miles of the planet. According to NASA, it was “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.”

Next for the New Horizons space craft is a mission to an object roughly 1 billion miles beyond Pluto in the Kuiper Belt. The collection of icy bodies on the edge of our solar system was discovered in 2014 by the Hubble Space Telescope. It is expected to reach the target, known as object 2014 MU69, in January 2019.

For WeatherNation: Meteorologist Mace Michaels

[Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI]

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