Sir Brian May's New Horizons music video (below) shows an animation of the spacecraft and its launch vehicle from countdown to MU69 Ultima Thule.

Part way through the video at about 02:30 and again at 03:20 (better view) it appears to switch to some technical, engineering like simulation (screen shots shown below) showing the choreography during the flyby of pluto.

What do all of these color vectors point to?

"Bonus points" for identifying or at least describing the software used to generate this segment.

Note, check the video or these full-size screen shots for more clues 1, 2, 3

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video cued at 02:30; lower your volume first, there is loud music at this point


The software is definitely AGI's STK (notice the font and the states at the left top corner). There seem to be two or maybe three frames attached to the spacecraft.

  1. Body-Axis Frame (marked "body-axis Z-,Y-,X-")
  2. Inertial J2000 XYZ frame (marked "J2000 X,Y,Z") in purple
  3. Two orbit normal vectors (one with respect to Pluto Body Center and another called "SCI" which might mean the Spacecraft centered inertial)
  • $\begingroup$ I see, this is quite helpful! +1 You have better eyes than I do. I don't understand what those two orbit normal vectors are though. Would the first one (wrt Pluto) be the normal to the plane that contains Pluto and the spacecraft's instantaneous velocity vector? For the second one I can't even venture a guess what it means, is it possible to explain in simpler terms? Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Sep 9 '19 at 8:00
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ No problem. Glad all that STK time I spent is useful. Both those vectors are custom defined, so we can't be sure based on what they're named by. You'd need to check the settings on those. $\endgroup$
    – ASRI_306
    Sep 9 '19 at 8:03

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