Friday, December 4, 2015

NASA just released incredible new images of Pluto — the best we'll see in decades



NASA just released the first batch of the closest images of Pluto that we'll see from the New Horizons flyby in July.
These images were taken from only 10,000 miles away from Pluto and have a resolution of about 250 feet per pixel. That level of detail is enough to reveal "features less than half the size of a city block," according to NASA.
Here's what the mountain range bordering Pluto's iconic heart-shaped Sputnik Planum looks like up close. The top part of the image shows the mountains (nicknamed al-Idrisi), and the bottom shows the outer edge of the flat, heart-shaped area, Sputnik Planum:

Pluto's "badlands" region sits just north of the al-Idrisi mountain range. You can see the heavily eroded and fault-line-covered surface in incredible detail:
Pluto has an open range of icy craters farther north of the badlands. You can see that many of the craters have distinct layers:
"Impact craters are nature's drill rigs, and the new, highest-resolution pictures of the bigger craters seem to show that Pluto's icy crust, at least in places, is distinctly layered," William McKinnon, deputy lead of the New Horizons Geology team, said in a press release. "Looking into Pluto's depths is looking back into geologic time, which will help us piece together Pluto's geological history."
Below is a video of several of these high resolution images stitched together. The New Horizons team said we'll see more of these close shots over the next several days as the spacecraft continues to beam back data.