NASA RELEASES CLOSE-UP PHOTOS OF NEW HORIZON’S FLYBY OF PLUTO

A day after its successful flyby of Pluto, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft sent back the first close-up images of Pluto’ ice mountains  and its largest moon, Charon. The spacecraft traveled nine years and three billion miles to study the dwarf planet.

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New Horizons Reveals
Ice Mountains on Pluto

Pluto seen by the New Horizons spacecraft on July 14

25 miles

Pluto

PLUTO Area of detail

Mountains on Pluto One of the first images returned to Earth after New Horizons’ Pluto flyby shows a small portion of Pluto’s surface seen from 47,800 miles away. Ice mountains up to 11,000 feet high — comparable to the height of the Rockies — cast shadows across a relatively smooth plain. The lack of craters indicates that the surface is quite young, no more than 100 million years old. This photo was taken early on Tuesday morning and shows an area just under the bright heart shape on Pluto’s surface.

Charon seen by the New Horizons spacecraft on July 14

100 miles Mordor Canyon (4 to 6 miles deep)

Canyons on Charon A new image of Charon, Pluto’s largest moon. The moon has a dark patch, informally called Mordor, at its north pole. The image was taken late Monday from a distance of 289,000 miles.

Hydra seen by the New Horizons spacecraft on July 14

10 miles

Pixelated Hydra New Horizons also took a low-resolution image of Hydra, one of Pluto’s small moons. The potato-shaped moon is 27 miles wide and 20 miles tall, and is so reflective that it is likely composed of water ice. Each large pixel in this image is two miles across.

Pluto seen by the New Horizons spacecraft on July 13

200 miles

Approaching Pluto The last image of Pluto returned to Earth before the flyby. It was taken on Monday, from a distance of 476,000 miles.

Pluto seen by the New Horizons spacecraft on July 14

200 miles:  North pole; Mountains Krun; the heart (or Tombaugh Regio); Crater; the whale (or Cthulhu)

The heart and the whale An annotated image with some of the visible surface features and informal names used by the New Horizons team.

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