This GIF Shows How Mind-Blowingly Fast New Horizons Is Travelling Through Space

We're dizzy just watching it.

31 AUG 2015


Air travel on Earth is pretty impressive. No matter how much we might whinge about long-haul flights, the fact that you can get to the other side of the world in less than a day is incredible. But this GIF, created by Google product developer Clay Bavor, puts our measly aeroplane speeds into perspective compared to NASA's New Horizons probe, which just completed a speedy flyby of Pluto. And boy do we feel slow.


The GIF compares the view at 11,278 metres (37,000 feet) if you were travelling in a Boeing 747, the reconnaissance aircraft SR-71 Blackbird, or New Horizons.

Just in case you're not familiar with imperial units, the 747 travels at 885 km/h (550 mph), the Blackbird hits top speeds of 4,345 km/h (2,700 mph) while New Horizons cruises along at a breakneck speed of 57,936 km/h (36,000 mph).

In fact, that's the reason New Horizons didn't hang about and enter Pluto's orbit - it was just too damn fast. "To get New Horizons into Pluto’s orbit, mission planners would have to reduce its speed by over 90 percent, which would require more than 1,000 times the amount of fuel the probe can carry," George Dvorsky wrote for io9 back in June.

If that's not impressive enough for you, over on Twitter Bavor explained that if you were travelling on New Horizons on Earth, you'd be able to get from San Francisco to New York in just 5 minutes - not enough time to bother switching your phone to airplane mode.

"Of course, you'd also be turned into a ball of searing hot plasma," Bavor adds. Yeah, we guess we'll stick to our old slow aeroplanes for now. There's something to be said for arriving in one piece.

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