Last week, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft began sending stunning shots of Pluto on its flyover back to the Earth. Here is a beautiful Pluto flyover video created from the images from New Horizons’ closest approach to the dwarf planet on July 14.
The animated video above shows Pluto’s (former ninth planet – now a dwarf planet) Norgay Montes (Norgay Mountains) and Sputnik Planum (Sputnik Plain) on its surface.
Norgay Montes have been informally named for Tenzing Norgay (29 May 1914 – 9 May 1986), commonly known as Sherpa Tenzing, a Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer, one of the first two humans to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
Sputnik Planum is informally named for Earth’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, the Soviet Union launched it into an elliptical low Earth orbit on 4 October 1957.
The images were acquired by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on July 14 from a distance of 48,000 miles (77,000 kilometers). Features as small as a half-mile (1 kilometer) across are visible.
The mountains crest 3.5 kilometers (2.2 miles) above Pluto’s surface. NASA estimates they have formed only 100 million years ago, quite young for the planetary time scale.
Our own Himalaya’s, for example, generally thought to have arisen from the collision of India and Asia 55 million years ago. But according to a controversial new dating study, they may be more than 450 million years old – nine times older than previously estimated.