U.S. – Stuart Robbins, a scientist from the Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, created a new animation/flyover of Pluto, using images provided by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft in order to map craters across the surfaces of Pluto and its largest moon Charon. The animation was called “Arts Meets Science in New Pluto Aerial Tour”

“I can hardly wait until we get even better imagery – up to seven times better pixel scale – that’s still to come of select areas of the surface and to see what new surprises Pluto has in store.” Robbins stated, through a NASA’s article.

Credit: NASA

New Horizons Spacecraft

The NASA’s spacecraft has been doing some great shots during its time exploring the Pluto system a few months ago. But it was not until now that the New Horizons began to send to Earth a big amount of photograph at up to 400 meters per pixel (m/px), an extreme high-quality that makes the spectator to have a mind-blowing experience, probably the closest we will ever get to Pluto, or as researchers call it, “a mysterious world.”

Robbins claimed that he used these pictures to “understand the population of impactors from the Kuiper Belt striking Pluto and Charon. While this is my research focus, another interest of mine is figuring out how to make visualizations that convey some of the sheer beauty and power of the features New Horizon is revealing.”

Furthermore, the research scientist wanted to provide the most realistic experience through the new images returned by the Spacecraft. The animation demonstrate exactly how it would be like to be at an aerial tour across the minor-planet atmosphere.

Animation Process

New Horizons science team gathered their minds in order to design the extraordinary animation. They used some of the latest images from the spacecraft that were released last week. Therefore, as we can see in this flyover of Pluto, the animation starts with images of the Tombaugh Regio, or better known as the “heart” of Pluto.

Later it leaves you speechless by showing  a 400 m/px image of the surrounding area. In addition, the animation shows images from the spacecraft flying through Pluto, these images are up to 800 m/px.

The Tour

The New Horizons Spacecraft tour, starts low over Norgay Montes, which are icy mountains near the Hillary Montes at a height of about 200 kilometers. Then the team head north over Sputnik Planum – an icy plain on Pluto with an irregular segmented surface, and then to Cthulhu Regio or “The Whale”, an elongated dark region along Pluto’s equator.

Furthermore, NASA’s flight path with the New Horizons, rises to more than 2,500 kilometers, with the final view of most of the disk that the spacecraft saw a few months ago.

“While Sputnik Planum is smooth at this pixel scale, it is in marked contrast to Cthulhu Regio which has many large impact craters that indicate the Regio is much older. The differences in brightness are some of the largest natural brightness variations of any object in the solar system.” The researcher team stated through NASA’s official website.

Pluto is a dwarf planet in the Kuiper belt, which is a ring of bodies beyond Neptune. Pluto was the first Kuiper belt celestial object to be found.

Source: NASA Blog