PHOTOS: NASA releases sharpest images yet of Pluto's surface
Saturday, December 5, 2015, 6:35 PM - NASA has released some of the most clearest photos of Pluto ever taken.
Captured by the New Horizons spacecraft on July 14, the sequence of images show a wide variety of the planet's glacial terrain along a strip spanning 80 km wide. Snapshots reveal northwest of Pluto's "heart" region, across the icy al-Idrisi mountains and through Sputnik Planum's plains.
It was the spacecraft's closest flyby, capturing photos at a distance from Earth that ranged from 7.5 billion to 4.28 billion km.
“These new images give us a breathtaking, super-high resolution window into Pluto’s geology,” said New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern in a statement. “Nothing of this quality was available for Venus or Mars until decades after their first flybys; yet at Pluto we’re there already – down among the craters, ice fields and mountains – less than five months after flyby! The science we can do with these images is simply unbelievable.”
At 250 to 280 feet per pixel, the images are six times better the resolution of the global Pluto map the New Horizons team put together earlier this year.
More of these stunning high resolution photos are expected to come in over the next few days, so stay tuned.
Here are some of the best close-ups:
This highest-resolution image from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft reveals new details of Pluto’s rugged, icy cratered plains.
In this highest-resolution image from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, great blocks of Pluto’s water-ice crust appear jammed together in the informally named al-Idrisi mountains.
This highest-resolution image from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft shows how erosion and faulting has sculpted this portion of Pluto’s icy crust into rugged badlands.
Watch more: Incredible images of our sun, taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory.