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Soaring over Charon
Release Date: July 14, 2017
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In July 2015, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft sent home the first close-up pictures of Pluto and its moons. Using actual New Horizons data and digital elevation models of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, mission scientists created flyover movies that offer spectacular new perspectives of the many unusual features that were discovered and which have reshaped our views of the Pluto system – from a vantage point even closer than a ride on New Horizons itself.
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 back 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. (Note that all feature names are informal.)
The topographic relief is exaggerated by a factor of 2 to 3 in these movies to emphasize topography; the surface colors have also been enhanced to bring out detail. Digital mapping and rendering were performed by Paul Schenk and John Blackwell of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Lunar and Planetary Institute