Pluto in High — and I DO Mean HIGH — Resolution
This mosaic is composed of the sharpest views of Pluto that NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft obtained during its flyby of the distant planet on July 14, 2015. The pictures are part of a sequence taken near New Horizons’ closest approach to Pluto, with resolutions of about 250-280 feet (77-85 meters) per pixel. Courtesy NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
The New Horizons mission has been steadily returning its treasure trove of images from the July 2015 flyby. Today’s image release showed just WHY it was important to send a darned good camera/detector along for the ride!
Feast your eyes on this strip image of Pluto’s surface. Go ahead, click on it. Zoom into it and really check out all the features. I am particularly intrigued by the “dune-ish” looking features in the lower part of the image. These are giant ice blocks bounded by the al-Idrisi Mountains that border Sputnik Planum. The “dunes” are not wind-driven piles of sand as they would be here on Earth. These rippled surface features form as the nitrogen-rich ices on the surface undergo some kind of heating that causes the ices ...