Whether you consider Pluto a planet or not (we’re with the little guy’s “planet” status, to be clear), you’ll be geeked to see some new images and a video released by NASA. The images come from the New Horizons mission and include a huge map of the dwarf planet based on a series of three-color filter images taken over six weeks by the Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging camera about New Horizons when it flew past the planet in 2015. The images took over 16 months to beam back to earth, and NASA scientists are just now ready to release new images and a video.
The video shows what it would be like to land on Pluto. Using more than 100 images from the mission, the video simulates a trip to the surface near a glacier shoreline called Sputnik Planitia. Scientists cobbled together hundreds of images along with black and white images interpreted to show what the landing would look like to human eyes.
The New Horizons mission traveled 3 billion miles over about 10 years and is the first mission to give us such detailed images of Pluto. Before this mission, the best we had were blurry black and white fuzzballs that didn’t tell us much.
And the mission isn’t done yet: NASA says that in 2019, the craft will send back images of an even deeper spatial object another billion miles away in the Kuiper Belt. They say that this region is filled with trillions of icy rocks and has never been explored. That new target was discovered by the Hubble Telescope in 2014.