It may be a nearly year since the New Horizons spacecraft flew by Pluto, sending back the first close-up pictures of the former planet, but NASA is still releasing images from that initial flyby. 

For those interested in getting a more immersive experience into this wealth of astronomical photography, Google Cardboard and the New York Times have teamed up to show us what virtual reality is truly capable of.  

The “Seeking Pluto’s Frigid Heart” production on the New York Times’s virtual reality app takes the latest photos of Pluto and extrapolates them so you can have the experience of flying through space with New Horizons, or even standing on the planet’s surface. 

Screencap from the New York Times “Seeking Pluto’s Frigid Heart” VR experience
I’ve been a fan of Google Carboard since it first launched. In a market where most virtual reality is fairly expensive, Cardboard offered a cheap (or free) way for users to try virtual reality with hardware they already owned. Teaming up with NASA was almost inevitable, as the VR setting allows a perspective on the sheer vastness of space that photography simply can’t give. 
These screenshots from the app really don’t do this experience justice.

If you don’t have the Google Cardboard headset (and don’t feel like buying or building one), the NYT VR app (which is free) also has the experience available for 360 degree viewing on a regular phone screen. 

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