In case you missed it earlier in July, here’s a look at how our view of Pluto has changed over the course of several decades. The first frame is a digital zoom-in on Pluto as it appeared upon its discovery by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930 (image courtesy Lowell Observatory Archives). The other images show various views of Pluto as seen by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope beginning in the 1990s and NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft in 2015. The final sequence zooms in to a close-up frame of Pluto released on July 15, 2015.
This amazing view of details on Pluto came via New Horizons, which launched on Jan. 19, 2006. New Horizons swung past Jupiter for a gravity boost and scientific studies in February 2007, and conducted a reconnaissance flyby study of Pluto and its moons in summer 2015. Pluto closest approach occurred on July 14, 2015. As part of an extended mission, the spacecraft is expected to head farther into the Kuiper Belt to examine one or two of the ancient, icy mini-worlds in that vast region, at least a billion miles beyond Neptune’s orbit.
Image credits available here.