NASA has recently shared a flyover video of Pluto that was made by using actual New Horizons data and digital elevation models. The video starts off by showcasing Pluto’s highlands and moves towards the southwest, across the nitrogen ice plain also known as Sputnik Planitia. The western margin of the Sputnik Planitia borders the Cthulhu Macula, which consists of a dark and cratered terrain. And within sight are some of Pluto’s blocky mountain ranges. As the film heads northward, we see the Voyager Terra’s rugged highlands and the Pioneer Terra, which consists of wide and deep pits. The flyover comes to an end over the eastern hemisphere of Pluto, where we get a glimpse of the bladed terrain of Tatarus Dorsa.
Mission scientists have been using the New Horizons data and models of Pluto and Charon (its largest moon) to create these eye-opening films. They give viewers a better sense of the Pluto system and how we might see it if we could orbit around Pluto in a spacecraft. Paul Schenk and John Blackwell of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston completed the digital mapping and rendering of the flyover film project.