This is what Pluto looks like, up close

Just Released NASA Images Have Sharpest Views Of Pluto
Just Released NASA Images Have Sharpest Views Of Pluto

NASA has released the "first and best" images the New Horizons spacecraft was able to take of Pluto during its flyby of the dwarf planet in July, all captured by the spacecraft's digital recorder during its closest approach. In the images, you can see the planet's various terrains and a "breathtaking, super-high resolution window into Pluto's geology." This shot, for instance, shows the "Mountainous Shoreline of Sputnik Planum" which is where "great blocks of Pluto's water-ice crust appear jammed together":

Not bad for a spacecraft operating roughly 3 billion miles away. And this image "shows how erosion and faulting have sculpted this portion of Pluto's icy crust into rugged badlands topography":

new pluto pics
new pluto pics

If you're not overwhelmed with this side of Pluto, don't worry, because scientists totally are. According to New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, "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, mountains and ice fields -- less than five months after flyby. The science we can do with these images is simply unbelievable."

And there are more images of Pluto's topography on the way, both in the form of further releases from NASA, and also because New Horizons is still transmitting its low-speed data from the flyby back to Earth. Watch a video tour of a 50 mile strip of the dwarf planet below:

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