Watch the Best Simulation Yet of the New Horizons Pluto Flyby

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Using data collected by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, Icelandic imaging wizard Björn Jónsson has produced a stunning animated visualization of the now historic Pluto flyby.

The time covered in the simulated flyby is from 09:35 to 13:35 on July 14, 2015. The closest approach happened around 11:50.


“Pluto’s atmosphere is included and should be fairly realistic from about 10 seconds into the animation and to the end,” writes Jónsson at his Vimeo page. “Earlier it is largely just guesswork that can be improved in the future once all data has been downlinked from the spacecraft.”

Jónsson says that light from Pluto’s moon Charon illuminates Pluto’s night side, but he exaggerated it in the video. In reality, he says it would be only barely visible or not even visible at all.


Email the author at and follow him at @dvorsky. Image credits: Source mages: NASA/JHU-APL/SwRI | Image processing and animation: Björn Jónsson.