Today, NASA’s New Horizons team delivered the latest round of updates from that historic Pluto flyby.
The new pictures reveal more intriguing details about Pluto, including the presence of flowing ice, a haze on its horizon and sharper images, which NASA enhanced with color to show more detail.
The above image was taken when New Horizons was 280,000 miles away, but shows “features as small as 1.4 miles,” which is twice the resolution of the image captured on July 13, according to this NASA statement.
Yet another photo (below) taken July 15 upon New Horizons departure, shows Pluto backlit by the sun and its atmosphere in this hazy ring. This shot was taken when the spacecraft was about 1.25 million miles away. The “haze” reaches as high as 80 miles above Pluto’s surface, and has two “distinct” layers, dispelling previous calculations that it couldn’t extend beyond 20 miles high.
NASA also released this digitally enhanced version, with false color, to bring out Pluto’s features:
And took closeups of the newly discovered flowing ice, which indicate “recent geologic activity, something scientists hoped to find but didn’t expect,” according to NASA. “We’ve only seen surfaces like this on active worlds like Earth and Mars,” said mission co-investigator John Spencer of SwRI on the glacial-like areas. “I’m really smiling.”:
Below, enjoy NASA’s new simulated flyover video of Pluto, covering the Sputnik Plain and the Hillary Mountains. The images were taken July 14 from 48,000 miles away.