New Horizons Mission Movie

Movie courtesy of NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute.

This animation illustrates the New Horizons space mission to Pluto and beyond.

Note: If you cannot see the movie you may need to download the latest QuickTime player.

This animation begins shortly after the launch of New Horizons on January 19, 2006. It opens with the spacecraft separating from the upper stage (a Boeing STAR-48B third-stage kick motor) of its launch vehicle just above Earth's atmosphere. New Horizons zoomed away from our planet at the highest speed of any spacecraft leaving Earth so far... it was traveling at 16.21 km/s (36,300 mph) when its engine shut down!

Next, the animation shows the spacecraft during its Jupiter flyby in February 2007. A gravity assist from the gas giant planet increases New Horizon's speed, cutting years off its journey to Pluto.

The animation then shows a reddish Pluto appearing reflected in the lens of the spacecraft's camera, and the swath of the camera's field of view as it sweeps across Pluto. New Horizons pivots to keep Pluto in the field of view of its cameras as is swings past that icy world. As the spacecraft's motion plunges it into Pluto's shadow, New Horizons studies Pluto's thin atmosphere by observing changes in the sunlight passing through it near the edge of Pluto's disc. Just minutes after its encounter with Pluto, New Horizons zips by Pluto's large moon Charon. Finally, some time after the Pluto flyby, the spacecraft passes one of the many Kuiper Belt Objects and studies that frozen time capsule of our Solar System's formation.

More New Horizons mission movies:

Animation icon Video of the launch of the New Horizons mission (5.5 MB)

Animation icon Animation of the trajectory of New Horizons through our Solar System (4.7 MB)

Last modified January 23, 2007 by Randy Russell.

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more


Pluto is a frigid ball of ice and rock that orbits far from the Sun on the frozen fringes of our Solar System. Considered a planet, though a rather odd one, from its discovery in 1930 until 2006, it was...more

A Look at Pluto's Atmosphere

It may seem hard to believe that Pluto could have an atmosphere because it is so cold at 39 AU, where Pluto is found, but it does. Because there are times when Pluto is closer to the sun than is Neptune...more

Charon - Pluto's biggest moon

Charon is a moon of Pluto. Pluto has // Call the moon count function defined in the document head print_moon_count('pluto'); moons. Charon is much larger than Pluto's other moons. James Christy discovered...more

Solar System Formation

Scientists believe that the solar system was formed when a cloud of gas and dust in space was disturbed, maybe by the explosion of a nearby star (called a supernova). This explosion made waves in space...more

New Horizons Flies By Jupiter in February 2007

The New Horizons spacecraft is on its way to Pluto. Along the way, it flew past the giant planet Jupiter. When the spacecraft flew by Jupiter, Jupiter's strong gravity gave New Horizons a "slingshot boost"...more

Hubble Space Telescope

The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was one of the most important exploration tools of the past two decades, and will continue to serve as a great resource well into the new millennium. The HST found numerous...more

Apollo 11

Driven by a recent surge in space research, the Apollo program hoped to add to the accomplishments of the Lunar Orbiter and Surveyor missions of the late 1960's. Apollo 11 was the name of the first mission...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA