The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have revealed what it is like to land on Pluto. On January 19, they released a movie that was composed of more than 100 images of the dwarf planet and Charon to give us an idea of a landing on Pluto.
The images of Pluto and Charon, its largest moon, were taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft over six weeks. The images were captured when the spacecraft was in close flyby of the dwarf planet back in 2015. On July 14, 2015, New Horizons flew through the dwarf planet’s system after covering more than three billion miles for 9.5 years. During this time, the spacecraft was as close as 12,500 kilometers or 7,800 miles from Pluto.
Aboard the spacecraft are powerful telescopic cameras that can photograph features on Pluto that are smaller than a football field. The spacecraft then sent back hundreds of images that included Pluto’s as well as its moons’ surfaces. The movie shows us the landing on the dwarf planet’s shoreline, which is currently called Sputnik Planitia.
The creation of this video involved interpolating some black and white frames and draping low-resolution images, taken by the Ralph color camera aboard the spacecraft, over the frames. Subsequently, the result shows the color simulation of what it looks like when we land on Pluto’s surface. Last year, an analysis by New Horizons spacecraft suggests that a liquid ocean may be hiding under Pluto’s frozen surface.
The findings, which were published in the journal Nature, show that Sputnik Planitia’s features suggest a presence of an ocean. “It’s a big, elliptical hole in the ground, so the extra weight must be hiding somewhere beneath the surface. And an ocean is a natural way to get that,” said the study first author Francis Nimmo, a professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz.