It took about a decade to get there, but NASA’s New Horizons probe finally sent back our first good pics of the former planet Pluto. But it had to navigate some trippy space weather to get there.
NASA has released a simulation of the space environment all the way out to Pluto in the months surrounding New Horizons’ July 2015 flyby. NASA notes that scientists at the Goddard Space Flight Center worked with the New Horizons team to test how well their models—and other models contributed by scientists around the world—predicted the space environment at Pluto. From solar winds to coronal mass ejections, magnetic fields and random particles — there’s a lot of “weather” out there in the nothingness.
Here’s an excerpt from how NASA described the model below:
"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. The Enlil model, named for the Sumerian god of the wind, is one of the primary models used to simulate the space environment near Earth and is the basis for the New Horizons simulation.
Check out the path below and let us know what you think: