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NOVA captures New Horizons' historic flyby of Pluto, the culmination of the spacecraft's nine-year journey to reveal the first-ever detailed images of this strange, icy world at the very edge of our solar system.
The New Horizons space probe has traveled three billion miles from Earth at more than 30,000 mph for nearly a decade. On July 14th, it will finally reach its destination and perform a fly-by of Pluto and beam the images from 6,500 miles above Pluto back to an eagerly awaiting planet Earth.
The NOVA crew will be on the ground for the culmination of the story to add to this film, which tells the story of the biggest space mission of the past 25 years—an epic 9-year journey to the mysterious distant world that could hold the secret to our solar system’s origins.
Here are a few highlights from the film:
• Great visuals of the design and building of the space probe, its science payload, the tech innovations needed to make the long, perilous trek
• Amazing time-lapse images of the volcanic eruption on Jupiter's moon, Io (first-ever captured off the Earth) -- and other science performed along the journey
• New Horizons in the final leg of the journey, out of hibernation and "phoning home to MOM" -- Mission Ops Manager Alice Bowman (APL's first female M.O.M.)
• NOVA tests the risks, shooting at the materials the space probe is made of to see what penetrates and assess potential hazards the probe faces — it's traveling so fast that hitting a one-millimeter sized particle or space dust could blow a hole in it that ends the mission.