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New Horizons Beams Back Most Detailed Pluto Images Yet

posted: 12/05/15
by: Danny Clemens

New Horizons has sent back an early Christmas gift: new imagery that depicts the surface of Pluto in unprecedented detail. Photos in the new batch reveal geological features smaller than half of a city block on the dwarf planet's surface (that's a resolution of about 250 feet per pixel).

Covering a 50-mile strip of land northwest of Sputnik Planum, the photos are likely the most detailed glimpse of Pluto that humankind get see until the next mission to the dwarf planet.

"These new images give us a breathtaking, super-high resolution window into Pluto's geology," New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern says in a news release.

"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."

Related: Why Aren't We Staying at Pluto?

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft executed its historic flyby of Pluto on July 14, completing humankind's first reconnaissance of the solar system's family of classical planets. Soaring though space at a speed of more than 31,000 miles per hour, the piano-sized spacecraft passed within 8,000 miles of the dwarf planet, mapping the surfaces of Pluto and Charon, its largest moon.

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