New NASA Video Shows ‘Land’ on Pluto’s Icy Plains


This may be the closest we ever get to landing on Pluto.

A new video takes viewers on a ride nearly down to the dwarf planet’s surface, stopping just above the rippled “shoreline” of the vast nitrogen-ice plain known as Sputnik Planum.

But this is no computer-generated experience. The video is composed of more than 100 photos captured over the course of six weeks by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft as it approached Pluto, and then, on July 14, 2015, flew within 7,800 miles (12,550 kilometers) of the frigid world’s surface.

“Just over a year ago, Pluto was just a dot in the distance,” New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, said in a statement. “This video shows what it would be like to ride aboard an approaching spacecraft and see Pluto grow to become a world, and then to swoop down over its spectacular terrains as if we were approaching some future landing.”

The $700 million New Horizons mission launched in January 2006, on a mission to give humanity its first good looks at Pluto. The dwarf planet had remained cloaked in mystery since its 1930 discovery, so small and faint that the most powerful telescopes on and near Earth could not resolve it into more than just fuzzy blob.

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SOURCE:, Mike Wall