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Watch: New visualisation of space environment at Pluto

The video shows a simulation of the space environment all the way out to Pluto in the months surrounding New Horizons’ historic July 2015 flyby.


Watch: New visualisation of space environment at Pluto
Photo credit: NASA

Washington: NASA on Wednesday released a new visualisation of the space environment at the dwarf planet Pluto.

Also Read: New Horizons returns Pluto's sharpest images ever

The video shows a simulation of the space environment all the way out to Pluto in the months surrounding New Horizons’ historic July 2015 flyby.

Understanding the environment through which our spacecraft travel can ultimately help protect them from radiation and other potentially damaging effects, said NASA in a release. Creating this new release, vsualisers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, recently updated the movie of the model.

Also Read: See pic: A day on Pluto and its moon Charon

The new findings revealed that although vacuum of space is about a thousand times emptier than a laboratory vacuum, it’s still not completely empty.

According to scientists, the sun releases a constant stream of particles called the solar wind - as well as occasional denser clouds of particles known as coronal mass ejections, or CMEs - both containing embedded magnetic fields. The density, speed, and temperature of these particles, as well as the direction and strength of the embedded magnetic fields, make up the space environment.

“We set the simulation to start in January of 2015, because the particles passing Pluto in July 2015 took some six months to make the journey from the sun,” said Dusan Odstrcil, a space weather scientist at Goddard who created the Enlil model.

To map the space environment at Pluto, scientists combined the predictions of several models and looked at events that had long since passed Earth.

The new, combined model tracks CMEs longer than ever before.

Because particles must travel for many months before reaching Pluto, the CMEs eventually spread out and merge with other CMEs and the solar wind to form larger clouds of particles and magnetic field.

(Source: NASA)

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