Artist’s concept of the New Horizons spacecraft encountering Pluto and its largest moon, Charon (foreground) in July 2015.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Steve Gribben/Alex Parker



The Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory issued impressive videos – “Summiting the Solar System” – that spotlights the voyage of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft and the flyby a small Kuiper Belt Object known scientifically as 2014 MU69, but nicknamed “Ultima Thule.”

New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Boulder, CO., left, with print of a U.S. stamp with suggested update since the New Horizons spacecraft explored Pluto in July 2015.
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Ultima, four billion miles from Earth, is the most ancient and most distant world ever explored close up. It offers discoveries about the origin and evolution of our solar system.

Big passions, small team

But “Summiting” is much more than the story of a sophisticated, plutonium-fueled robotic spacecraft exploring far from the Sun.

The New Horizons mission is powered as much by the passions of a small team of humans—men and women, scientists and engineers—for whom pushing the frontiers of the known, climbing the very peaks of the possible, has been the dream of many decades.

Credit: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute (JHUAPL/SwRI)



Behind the scenes

“Summiting” goes behind the scenes of the most ambitious occultation campaigns ever mounted, as scientists deployed telescopes to Senegal and Colombia in 2018, and Argentina, South Africa and New Zealand in 2017, to glimpse Ultima as it passed in front of a star, and gathered data on the object’s size and orbit that has been essential to planning the flyby.


Mission scientists recall the astonishing scientific success of flying through the Pluto system in 2015, and use comparative planetology to show how Earth and Pluto are both amazingly different and—with glaciers, tall mountains, volcanoes and blue skies—awesomely similar.

Along for the ride

Appealing to all, “Summiting” brings viewers along for the ride of a lifetime as New Horizons pushes past Pluto and braves an even more hazardous unknown.

These videos were produced by Geoff Haines Stiles of Geoff Haines Stiles Productions (GHSPi) and can be found here at:

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