Monday, July 17, 2017

"Good Night, Moon"

The waning crescent

22.4 days old

47 percent lit

July 16, 2017
By Loren Grush

It was two years ago, (click here) on July 14th, 2015, that NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew by Pluto — marking the first time we had ever explored this mysterious small world. The probe whizzed by within 7,750 miles of the dwarf planet’s surface and snapped the first ever close-up images of Pluto and its weird moons. Now, New Horizons is way beyond Pluto, journeying to another object at edge of the Solar System. But you can relive the flyby with this new animation from NASA that takes you over Pluto’s unique terrain.

Members of the New Horizons mission team put together the animation using data collected by the spacecraft, as well as elevation models of Pluto’s surface. The video starts just southwest of Sputnik Planitia — the huge plains of nitrogen ice that form part of Pluto’s signature giant heart. It then passes over numerous other locations, showcasing the various mountain ranges, basins, and fractured landscape of Pluto’s surface. The elevations have been exaggerated a bit, too, just to illustrate just how dynamic the geography is. But the result is a captivating view of this complex little planet and a reminder of just how much the surface changes throughout....