NASA’s New Horizons mission launched on January 19, 2006 with ambitions to visit the dwarf planet Pluto. This spacecraft had to venture into a disc-shaped region called the Kuiper Belt, which consists of icy mini-worlds at the edge of our solar system.
After its 2006 launch, it took over a year for New Horizons to swing by Jupiter, receiving a helpful cosmic boost from the planet’s gravity. It wasn’t until the summer of 2015 that this spacecraft finally reached its faraway destination. New Horizons endured a 9.5-year long journey in order to gaze at a world more than three billion miles away.
The closest New Horizons came to the dwarf planet was 7,800 miles (12,500 kilometers). Using a powerful, onboard telescopic camera, the spacecraft sent back hundreds of fascinating images. After successfully completing its mission, NASA extended New Horizons stay within the outer regions of space, sending it about one billion miles beyond Neptune’s orbit to examine another icy body.
Recently, NASA gathered over 100 images of this daring journey to construct an immersive, colorful video, which simulates what it’d look like to land on Pluto’s surface. First, it starts with a distant view of the dwarf planet and Charon, Pluto’s largest moon. The clip continues to descend onto the remote world.
Watch this historic “landing” in the video below!
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense