Get New Horizons’ views of Pluto

Simulation from NASA allows users to imagine flying along with spacecraft

Eyes on Pluto

VIRTUAL HITCHHIKING  Users can ride along with the New Horizons spacecraft with “Eyes on Pluto,” shown in this screen capture taken shortly before a simulated closest approach.


Do you wish you could ride alongside the New Horizons spacecraft as it swings past Pluto on July 14? “Eyes on Pluto” has you covered. This program for your computer provides a “live” simulated view from the spacecraft. And with the click of a button, you can watch the entire encounter unfold before it even happens.

The app starts by showing the spacecraft’s current point of view at the time you start the program, looking ahead toward Pluto and its five moons. There are plenty of options to change camera angles, simulation speed and time, but the preview mode is undoubtedly the most fun. Starting about 24 hours before the spacecraft’s closest approach to Pluto, the entire encounter plays out in just a few minutes.

An inset window shows where the instruments are looking and which ones are active. You can watch the suite of cameras and spectrometers survey Pluto and its moons, all without donning a spacesuit and stowing away on board for nine and a half years.

Christopher Crockett is an Associate News Editor. He was formerly the astronomy writer from 2014 to 2017, and he has a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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