This month last year, NASA–or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration–made history after becoming the first space agency to send and photograph Pluto. Since then, scientists have known more about the world we once called our ‘ninth planet.’
For instance, scientists once suspected that the dwarf planet is a dead cold world, orbiting the sun about three point sixty-seven billion miles away. Data from the New Horizons revealed otherwise.
Pluto, surprisingly, is a geologically active world. NASA, several hours after the close encounter of the New Horizons with Pluto, announced the discovery of ice mountains and actively resurfacing planes on its surface. Instead of a world, like the moon, with heavy presence of galactic bombardment, scientists at the New Horizons mission were shocked to find out that the tiny far away dwarf planet is still on the phase of ‘taking shape.’
Pluto’s geology is hard to explain, says scientists. Jeff Moore, the leader of NASA’s New Horizons Geology team, has added that the discovery “exceeds all pre-flyby expectations.”
What scientists know now, and other secrets waiting to be revealed, all came from the New Horizon’s brief flyby on July 14 of last year, and the hard work of scientists who deliberately analyze the data sent by the multimillion-dollar science explorer.
But NASA isn’t stopping there, and we can honestly say that scientists there are trying their very best to pique the curiosity of Americans. Of late, they have uploaded a new video showing what it would be like to land on Pluto.
Titled ‘New Horizons: imagining a landing on Pluto,’ the new post at the NASA website explained that the video was made from more than one hundred images taken by the New Horizons spacecraft over its six weeks of approach and close flyby.
“It offers a trip to Pluto,” the space agency said in a statement.
The video starts at thousands of miles away from Pluto and its largest moon, Charon. Closing the distance day by day, the video shows the fictional spacecraft landing on the shoreline of Pluto’s Sputnik Planum.
Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado–and the New Horizons Principal Investigator–said that Pluto, over a year ago, was just a dot in the distance.
And now, of course, scientists know more about the former planet. The video, Stern said, shows what it would be like to ride aboard a Pluto-bound spacecraft. “See Pluto grow to become a world, and then to swoop down over its spectacular terrains as if we were approaching some future landing.”
Sending the first manned spacecraft to Pluto won’t happen in our lifetime, but at least humanity today has the technology to “recreate” it in the virtual world.
As of this writing, the video has over two hundred and sixteen thousand views on YouTube, and was liked by more than five hundred users.