On July 14, 2015, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft made its historic flight through the Pluto system. On the two-year anniversary of the flyby, the New Horizons team is unveiling a set of flyover movies and detailed global maps of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon.
The global mosaics of Pluto and Charon were created from the highest-resolution images taken by New Horizons’ Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) and the Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC).
“The complexity of the Pluto system — from its geology to its satellite system to its atmosphere– has been beyond our wildest imagination,” said New Horizons principal investigator Dr. Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute.
“Everywhere we turn are new mysteries,” he added.
“These new maps from the landmark exploration of Pluto by NASA’s New Horizons mission in 2015 will help unravel these mysteries and are for everyone to enjoy.”
Dr. Alan Stern and colleagues also created flyover movies that offer spectacular new perspectives of many unusual features on Pluto and Charon.
The topographic relief was exaggerated by a factor of 2-3 times in these movies to emphasize topography.
The surface colors of the dwarf planet and its largest moon were enhanced to bring out detail.
The dramatic Pluto flyover begins over the highlands to the southwest of the great expanse of nitrogen ice plain named Sputnik Planitia.
The viewer first passes over the western margin of Sputnik, where it borders the dark, cratered terrain of Cthulhu Macula, with the blocky mountain ranges located within the plains seen on the right.
The tour moves north past the rugged and fractured highlands of Voyager Terra and then turns southward over Pioneer Terra — which exhibits deep and wide pits — before concluding over the bladed terrain of Tartarus Dorsa in the far east of the encounter hemisphere.
The flight over Charon begins high over the hemisphere New Horizons saw on its closest approach, then descends over the deep, wide canyon of Serenity Chasma.
The view moves north, passing over Dorothy Gale crater and the dark polar hood of Mordor Macula.
The flight then turns south, covering the northern terrain of Oz Terra before ending over the relatively flat equatorial plains of Vulcan Planum and the ‘moated mountains’ of Clarke Montes.