Skip to main content

New Horizons' Pluto flyover highlighted in a fresh new video from NASA

It’s been two years since NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft sent back images from its Pluto flyover, depicting never-before-seen features like the dwarf planet’s now iconic “heart.” Last week, a team of scientists from the mission released detailed maps of Pluto and its moon, Charon, along with new digitally rendered videos created using topographical data collected during the spacecraft’s flyovers.

New Horizons Flyover of Pluto

The Pluto flyover starts in the highlands southwest of a nitrogen ice plain called Sputnik Planitia and passes over Sputnik’s western border toward Cthulu Macula, a region dotted with impact craters and scattered mountain ranges. Flying north, the video passes over Voyager Terra, a region of rough highlands, and head southward to Pioneer Terra, marked by deep pits. The journey ends in a flyover the eastern region of Tartarus Dorsa.

New Horizons Flyover of Charon

Charon’s flyover is perhaps less anticipated — few people are as sentimental about the moon than they are about Pluto — but it’s no less impressive. Approaching from the same angle as New Horizons, the journey drops down to observe the Serenity Canyon, turning north to fly over Dorothy Gale crater (named after the Wizard of Oz protagonist) and Mordor Macula (named after the black land in The Lord of the Rings). Heading south, the film passes over Oz Terra (notice a pattern here?) and concludes at Vulcan Planum and the Clarke Mountains, a unique feature described as mountains within a moat.

“This is a feature that has geologists stunned and stumped,” Jeff Moore, who leads New Horizons’ Geology, Geophysics and Imaging team, said in a statement in 2015.

Neither Pluto nor Charon looked to New Horizons exactly as they appear here in these movies. For one thing, the viewers vantage point is much closer in the video than the spacecraft had itself. The topographic features have also been emphasized two to three times to make them more visible to the viewer. The bodies’ surface colors have also been enhanced to make them pop.

The last data recorded by New Horizons during its flyby Pluto was received on October 25, 2016. Since then the spacecraft has maneuvered to do a flyby of a Kupier Belt object — 1 billion miles beyond the orbit of Neptune — on New Year’s Day 2019.

Editors' Recommendations

Dyllan Furness
Dyllan Furness is a freelance writer from Florida. He covers strange science and emerging tech for Digital Trends, focusing…
Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ next free update adds Festivale event to the game
Animal Crossing Festivale

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is getting a free update on Thursday, January 28. The update adds a new event called Festivale to the game in February.

For longtime fans, Festivale may sound familiar. The event is Animal Crossing's equivalent to Mardi Gras, and usually takes place one day before the real-world celebration. Festivale will take place in-game on February 15.

Read more
Animal Crossing: New Horizon’s next update adds holiday events, save transfers
Animal Crossing New Horizons Winter Update

A big update on November 19 will bring Thanksgiving- and holiday-themed events to Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The free download also finally adds the option for players to transfer save data to the game.

The update adds two big events to the game. Turkey Day takes place on Thanksgiving Day, November 26, and will task players with gathering ingredients to make a Thanksgiving feast. Christmas Eve (December 24) brings Toy Day, a holiday-themed event where players dress up like Santa Claus and deliver gifts to villagers. Both events add classic characters to the game, including Franklin and Jingle.

Read more
Here’s every new item you can get from Pirate Gulliver in Animal Crossing today
animal crossing pirate set gulliver rewards

Gulliver has been washing up on the beaches of Animal Crossing towns and islands for decades now. He's a clumsy bird that, for some reason, still needs a boat to get around. Although he hasn't had much to offer players of Animal Crossing: New Horizons for a while now, the summer update changes all that.

Gulliver is back. Sort of. He'll still wash up on your beach like before, but he's sporting a new look and will dish out new rewards for getting him back in touch with his crew.

Read more