Now, NASA scientists, using the New Horizons data and digital elevation models of Pluto and its largest moon Charon, have created flyover movies that reveal breath-taking new perspectives of the unusual features of the planet.
A flight over Pluto shows the highlands and the planet's nitrogen icy plain, Sputnik Planitia. The flyover concludes at Tartarus Dorsa.
NASA is celebrating the second anniversary of its New Horizons' historic Pluto flyby and to mark the occasion, it has released new maps of the planet and its moon Charon.
The Charon video starts shows a deep canyon called Serenity Chasma, moves north over Dorothy Gale crater, dark polar hood of Mordor Macula, south showing part of Oz Terra and finishing up on the relatively flat equatorial plains of Vulcan Planum and "moated mountains" of Clarke Montes. In both of them, topographic relief has been exaggerated by two to three times, and surface colors have been enhanced, to highlight topography and detail, NASA officials said. The spacecraft took nine-and-a-half years to get there. Accomplishing the observations of that occultation was made possible with the help of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and Gaia, a space observatory of the European Space Agency (ESA).
NASA releases New Horizons flyover video
"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.
More data are on the way, with additional occultations of MU69 occurring on July 10 and July 17.
Check out the star brightness, predicted shadow path and other tech specs for the July 10 and July 17 occultation events.
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