We are witnessing history, people! NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has sent back the first in a series of the sharpest views of Pluto it snapped during its flyby in July. According to NASA, these are the best close-up images of Pluto we may see for decades.
The photo above is the highest-resolution image showing huge blocks of Pluto’s icy crust slammed together in the al-Idrisi mountains. The series of detailed images features a sequence taken near New Horizons’ closest approach to Pluto. These photos capture the beauty and diversity of Pluto’s terrain.
“The mountains bordering Sputnik Planum are absolutely stunning at this resolution,” said New Horizons science team member John Spencer of the Southwest Research Institute. “The new details revealed here, particularly the crumpled ridges in the rubbly material surrounding several of the mountains, reinforce our earlier impression that the mountains are huge ice blocks that have been jostled and tumbled and somehow transported to their present locations.”
With resolutions of about 250-280 feet (77-85 meters) per pixel, NASA was able to capture features less than half a city block wide on the surface. The sequence – which forms a strip 50 miles (80 kilometers) wide on a world 3 billion miles away – shows Pluto’s massive craters, mountains, ice fields and glaciers.
The New Horizons spacecraft transmits recorded data from its flight through the Pluto system on July 14th every week. Mission scientists expect to receive more amazing images of Pluto over the next few days.