It’s four days until NASA’s New Horizons’ flyby of Pluto — and the photos the probe is sending back just keep getting better and better.
Despite a brief glitch in communications last weekend, New Horizons has been busy transmitting info on Pluto and its moon Charon this week. Yesterday, the space agency posted some of the best images yet of the “dynamic duo,” revealing “brighter areas” on Charon that scientists suspect might be impact craters.
“If we see impact craters on Charon, it will help us see what’s hidden beneath the surface,” said GGI leader Jeff Moore of NASA’s Ames Research Center in a statement. “Large craters can excavate material from several miles down and reveal the composition of the interior.”
In short, said GGI deputy team leader John Spencer of SwRI, “Charon is now emerging as its own world. Its personality is beginning to really reveal itself.”
Pluto is showing a little love of its own. On Wednesday, NASA revealed this picture — the most detailed yet — of a heart-shaped area on the planet’s surface taken when New Horizons was about 5 million miles away. It was also the first picture to be received since the July 4 communications hiccup. The “heart” is about 1,200 miles across.
“The next time we see this part of Pluto at closest approach, a portion of this region will be imaged at about 500 times better resolution than we see today,” said Jeff Moore, Geology, Geophysics and Imaging Team Leader of NASA’s Ames Research Center in an online statement. “It will be incredible!”
Remember, Tuesday is the big flyby event. After nine years and 3 billion miles, New Horizons will pass Pluto going nearly 31,000 mph. NASA’s New Horizons’ team makes it easy to follow all the action via Twitter with the hashtag #PlutoFlyBy:
— NASA New Horizons (@NASANewHorizons) July 10, 2015
We can’t wait to see what else is revealed!