The Pluto pictures from NASA’s New Horizons probe just keep getting better and better: Feast your eyes on this colorized view of the border between the towering al-Idrisi mountains made of water ice, and the rippled nitrogen-rich plains of Sputnik Planum.
The view combines high-resolution black-and-white imagery from New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager, or LORRI; and lower-resolution color data from the Ralph/Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera, or MVIC.
The two sets of images were taken about 25 minutes apart on July 14, while the piano-sized probe zoomed within 10,000 miles of the dwarf planet’s surface. Check out the full-size mosaic.
Another picture released on Thursday zooms in on a different kind of Plutonian terrain. There’s an intricate pattern of pits spread across a section of Tombaugh Regio (the bright heart-shaped region that showed up in New Horizons’ imagery).
The pits are typically hundreds of yards across and tens of yards deep. Scientists say they may have formed through a combination of ice fracturing and evaporation. What’s more, the fact that there are so few impact craters pockmarking the terrain suggests that the pits are of relatively recent origin.
Every week for the next year or so, the New Horizons spacecraft will be sending back more of the gigabits’ worth of data it stored up during the July flyby, even as it keeps heading outward to its next target. Bottom line: Stay tuned for more peculiarities from Pluto.