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Pluto Continues to Amaze

Pluto Continues to Amaze

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This dwarf planet sure knows how to get a BIG reaction because we’re stunned by the latest images from our New Horizons spacecraft!

Back on July 14, the spacecraft completed it’s historic Pluto flyby, and is now in an intensive downlink phase. During this time, New Horizons will send us some of the best data and images we’ve seen!

These latest images were taken just 15 minutes after New Horizons’ closest approach to Pluto. The spacecraft looked back toward the sun and captured this near-sunset view. Icy mountains, flat plains and the horizon can all be seen in detail.

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When we take a closer look, these features truly begin to stand out. Mountains up to 11,000 feet high are met by flat icy plains that extend out to Pluto’s horizon. There, more than a dozen layers of haze in the dwarf planet’s atmosphere can be seen. It’s almost as if we’re flying over the surface with the New Horizons spacecraft.

Speaking of flyover, this new animation of Pluto has been created from images returned from the spacecraft this month. This view shows us what it might be like to take an aerial tour through Pluto’s thin atmosphere and soar above the surface. 

These images and videos are not only stunning, but also provide us with important information about the dwarf planet. So far, scientists can tell that the weather changes from day to day on Pluto. These images, combined with others that have been downloaded, provide evidence for a remarkably Earth-like “hydrological” cycle on Pluto.

For updates on the data and images received by the New Horizons spacecraft, check our blog: https://blogs.nasa.gov/pluto/

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