NASA releases 'dramatic Pluto flyover' video

NASA releases 'dramatic Pluto flyover' video

Pluto flyover video
A NASA animation video based on New Horizons data allows you to feel as though you're flying past Pluto. (Photo: Screengrab from NASA video)

SINGAPORE: NASA's video released last week is as close as you will get to actually flying over the icy terrains of Pluto. 

The "dramatic" movie - created using data from the New Horizons spacecraft's flyby journey in 2015 - offers "spectacular new perspectives of the many unusual features that were discovered and which have reshaped our views of the Pluto system", NASA said in its statement. 

Last year, New Horizons scientists revealed their findings from the spacecraft's close-up adventure, which its principal investigator Alan Stern described as "completely transform(ing) our view of Pluto". 

The papers authored by the scientists revealed that the "former ‘astronomer’s planet’" was in fact a "real world with diverse and active geology, exotic surface chemistry, a complex atmosphere, puzzling interaction with the sun and an intriguing system of small moons", Mr Stern added. 

The flyover video of Pluto, which was downgraded to the status of dwarf planet in 2006, "begins over the highlands to the southwest of the great expanse of nitrogen ice plain informally named Sputnik Planitia", said NASA. 

"The viewer first passes over the western margin of Sputnik, where it borders the dark, cratered terrain of Cthulhu Macula, with the blocky mountain ranges located within the plains seen on the right.

"The tour moves north past the rugged and fractured highlands of Voyager Terra and then turns southward over Pioneer Terra - which exhibits deep and wide pits - before concluding over the bladed terrain of Tartarus Dorsa in the far east of the encounter hemisphere," the agency added.  

NASA also released similar footage of Charon, the largest of Pluto's five moons. 

It said that to enhance Pluto and Charon's topography, their relief was exaggerated by a factor of two to three times. Their surface colours were also enhanced to bring out detail.