Surely you remember earlier this summer, when the New Horizons spacecraft zoomed past Pluto taking lots of pictures and showing us the cute little heart it wears.
Well, because those high resolution pictures aren't small, while the distance between us and that spacecraft is quite large, NASA only started releasing some of the first real close up shots Sept. 10.
And boy, are they breathtaking.
These are composite photos, pieced together from many smaller shots. And they show a staggering amount of geographical variety as NASA says in their accompanying press release:
New Horizons began its yearlong download of new images and other data over the Labor Day weekend. Images downlinked in the past few days have more than doubled the amount of Pluto's surface seen at resolutions as good as 400 meters (440 yards) per pixel. They reveal new features as diverse as possible dunes, nitrogen ice flows that apparently oozed out of mountainous regions onto plains, and even networks of valleys that may have been carved by material flowing over Pluto's surface. They also show large regions that display chaotically jumbled mountains reminiscent of disrupted terrains on Jupiter's icy moon Europa.
"The surface of Pluto is every bit as complex as that of Mars," said Jeff Moore, leader of the New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging (GGI) team at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. "The randomly jumbled mountains might be huge blocks of hard water ice floating within a vast, denser, softer deposit of frozen nitrogen within the region informally named Sputnik Planum."
And look at its dark side.
Additionally, if you want to see a really neat composite video of New Horizons journey through the end of our solar system, watch it here.
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