Pictures and data from its epic meeting together with the prior planet will continue on Earth during the following several months, although NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has already been well on its approach to its next goal beyond Pluto. A surprisingly dynamic and lovely, if very icy dwarf planet is shown by the most recent batch of pictures released Thursday.
In the below panorama, taken soon after its closest meeting point was passed by New Horizons the craft looked back towards sunlight to catch this picture that was backlit. The icy plain now called the Sputnik Planum is visible to the left; on the top right half the world are some mountains that reach not as short high.
Above the top, over a dozen layers of haze are not invisible in Pluto’s atmosphere.
This next picture zooms in to reveal only 230 miles worth of Pluto, emphasizing the marked comparison between highlands and Plutonian plains.
“This picture actually allows you to feel you’re there, at Pluto, studying the landscape on your own,” said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute.