Watch: Stunning footage of Pluto's surface

One year ago, Nasa's New Horizons spacecraft was three billion miles away from Earth collecting unprecedented data from Pluto and its moons.

Now, the craft has gone 300 million miles farther, as it makes its way through the Kuiper Belt.

To mark the one-year anniversary of New Horizons' Pluto approach, Nasa has created a stunning new video from some of the footage, revealing what it might be like if you could really take a trip to the icy dwarf planet.

When New Horizons finally reached Pluto more than nine years into its journey, it was traveling at speeds that could get you from New York to Los Angeles in just four minutes, Nasa explains.

All the while, it was collecting data about Pluto and its moons through cameras, spectrometers, and various other sensors.

This expansive collection of hundreds of photos and other data has provided a never-before-seen look at the outer solar system.

The breathtaking video was created from more than 100 images taken over the six-week approach and close flyby.

The craft approached Pluto on July 14, 2015, and came within 7,800 miles of the dwarf planet.

It moves through views of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, before "landing" on the shore of Sputnik Planum.

"Just over a year ago, Pluto was just a dot in the distance," said New Horizons Principal Investigator alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado.

"This video shows what it would be like to ride aboard an approaching spacecraft and see Pluto grow to become a world, and then to swoop down over its spectacular terrains as if we were approaching some future landing."

So far, New Horizons has sent roughly 80 percent of its stored data back to Earth for analysis, and is expected to complete this process by October.

"New Horizons not only completed the era of first reconnaissance of the planets, the mission has intrigued and inspired," said Nasa's Director of Planetary Science Jim Green.

"Who knew that Pluto would have a heart? Even today, New Horizons captures our imagination, rekindles our curiosity, and reminds us of what's possible."

In the course of its Pluto investigation, New Horizons sent back some surprising findings.

Scientists say Pluto and its satellites are far more complex than they'd believed, and age-dating of its moons has revealed that they are the same age.

This supports theories that Pluto's moons were formed from the collision of Pluto and another planet.

Along with this, the New Horizons data has revealed detailed views, showing how Pluto's moon Charon has a red polar cap.

The data also revealed new insight on Pluto's atmospheric haze - and that its atmosphere is blue.

"It's strange to think that only a year ago, we still had no real idea of what the Pluto system was like," said Hal Weaver, New Horizons project scientist from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.

"But it didn't take long for us to realize Pluto was something special, and like nothing we ever could have expected. We've been astounded by the beauty and complexity of Pluto and its moons and we're excited about the discoveries still to come."

Earlier this month, the spacecraft was approved for an extended mission, allowing it to continue on its path toward an object deeper in the Kuiper Belt.

It's expected that New Horizons will make its approach to the ancient object on January 1, 2019.

"Our entire team is proud to have accomplished the first exploration of Pluto and the Kuiper Belt - something many of us had worked to achieve since the 1990s," said Stern.

"The data that New Horizons sent back about Pluto and its system of moons has revolutionized planetary science and inspired people of all ages across the world about space exploration.

It's been a real privilege to be able to do that, for which I'll be forever indebted to our team and our nation."

- Daily Mail

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