The most recently downloaded images of Pluto have been released by NASA. After New Horizons spacecraft’s famous fly-by, Pluto is gradually being revealed to us.
Pluto is becoming more and more familiar to us. Earlier this month, it was suggested that it might even shelter simple life forms under its outer layer.
NASA has released further images of the planet that were captured by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft during its fly-by in July. Detailed pictures depicting the complex surface features of Pluto have now captivated the attention of scientists.
“Pluto is showing us a diversity of landforms and complexity of processes that rival anything we’ve seen in the Solar System,” New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern said in a statement. “If an artist had painted this Pluto before our flyby, I probably would have called it over the top – but that’s what is actually there.”
The high-resolution images from the historic fly-by are expected to be released gradually over a period of one year due to the download speeds of the spacecraft.
The latest images apparently reveal nitrogen ice flows, valleys, sloping dunes, as well as mountains which seem to be haphazardly distributed on the surface.
“The surface of Pluto is every bit as complex as that of Mars,” said Jeff Moore, leader of the New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging (GGI) team. “The randomly jumbled mountains might be huge blocks of hard water ice floating within a vast, denser, softer deposit of frozen nitrogen within the region informally named Sputnik Planum.”
Pluto from 1,800 kilometres (above its equatorial area).
A mosaic of high-resolution images captured from 80,000 km. The Sputnik Planum icy plain is seen here. The landscape also appears to be varied. The two white rectangles show the chaos region and dark areas.
The chaos region.