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:
Video of the launch of the New Horizons mission (5.5 MB)
Animation of the trajectory of New Horizons through our Solar System (4.7 MB)
You might also be interested in:
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
It may seem hard to believe that Pluto could have an atmosphere because it is so cold, but it does. Because there are times when Pluto is closer to the sun than is Neptune (making it the 8th planet for...more
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 bigger than Pluto's other moons. James Christy discovered...more
Scientists believe that the solar system was formed when a cloud of gas and dust in space was disturbed, maybe by the expl osion of a nearby star (called a supernova). This explosion made waves in space...more
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
The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is really neat! It was first launched in 1990, but scientists started building it in the 1970's! We have found all kinds of objects like stars, nebulae and galaxies. The...more
Apollo 11 was the first mission that landed a person on the moon. On July 16, 1969, the U. S. rocket Saturn 5 was launched carrying the lunar landing module Eagle. The Eagle was released and it reached...more