Last week, NASA shared an absolutely jaw-dropping video of a probe’s descent and landing on Saturn’s moon, Titan. We haven’t landed anything like that probe, Huygens, on the far-out former planet Pluto yet, but NASA came up with the next best thing — video simulating a “landing” on the distant world pulled together from photographs the New Horizons mission snapped during its flyby.
New Horizons offered us an unprecedented view of Pluto when it flew past it in the summer of 2015. NASA unveiled a bevy of detailed, stunning maps and pictures from that flyby on Thursday. The “landing” video is a neat little experience, but putting it together wasn’t so simple. NASA explains on its website that experts had to stitch more than 100 images together to create a fairly seamless video out of the pictures New Horizons took over the course of six weeks.
“To create a movie that makes viewers feel as if they’re diving into Pluto, mission scientists had to interpolate some of the panchromatic (black and white) frames based on what they know Pluto looks like to make it as smooth and seamless as possible,” NASA explains. “Low-resolution color from the Ralph color camera aboard New Horizons was then draped over the frames to give the best available, actual color simulation of what it would look like to descend from high altitude to Pluto’s surface.”
Watch the full video, which starts with a distant view of Pluto and its moon Charon, and ends on an extreme closeup of that big ol’ heart, right here.