We’ve been on the receiving end of many Pluto photos thanks to NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, but we haven’t actually landed on the dwarf planet yet. That hasn’t stopped the space agency from imagining what such a landing may look like, and it has shared that vision with everyone else via a new photo. Rather than using a computer to generate it, NASA utilized more than 100 photos snapped by New Horizons during its mission.
In 2015, New Horizons spent six weeks in a flyby of Pluto, making its way ever closer to the celestial body while snapping images of it with a high level of detail. In the video below, NASA uses those photos to show what it would look like if a spacecraft planned to launch on the dwarf planet.
Of course, humans haven’t ever actually landed an object on Pluto, so we don’t have any photos from the surface, nor any very close to it. Instead, we have photos that come as close as 7,800 miles from the surface — enough to give us detail, but not enough to simulate a full landing of a hypothetical spacecraft.
New Horizons has spent the better part of a decade working on its Pluto mission — it took 9.5 years to travel to the dwarf planet, a journey of more than three billion miles. The cameras on the spacecraft are able to capture details on the dwarf planet of objects that are smaller than a football field. Check out the timeline below for other recent NASA news!