The New Horizons mission to the Pluto System has given us groundbreaking insight into understanding the outermost realm of the solar system and a realistic idea of the dwarf-planet's visual and environmental characteristics. It's also plunged us even deeper into the great unknown by venturing further than ever before to explore the Kuiper belt.
Other than the data captured, the greatest aspect of this mission has been the visuals generated from New Horizons. The #Plutoflyby data and images are continually being downloaded as the mission progresses, but here's ten of the best photos yet.
With possibly decades left of exploration left in it, New Horizons spacecraft is venturing deeper into the distant, mysterious Kuiper Belt – a relic of solar system formation.
Below is an overview of Pluto's chemical composition.
Below, an image of Pluto and it's largest moon Charon in relation to each other. While this isnt their actual colours, the colour data helps scientists understand the molecular make-up of ices on the surfaces of these celestial bodies, as well as the age of geologic features. They can also tell us about surface changes caused by space “weather,” such as radiation.
Below, a global map of Pluto made from images of the planet's surface helps us navigate its regions better.
Below, discovering the flowing ices of Pluto, NASA’s New Horizons revealed frozen plains in the heart of Pluto’s ‘Heart’. This vast, craterless plain appears to be no more than 100 million years old, and is possibly still being shaped by geologic processes.
A stunning image of a halo around Pluto as it is backlit by the sun. Pluto’s atmosphere rings its silhouette like a luminous halo in this image taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. This wholistic view of the atmosphere was captured when the spacecraft was about 2 million kilometers from Pluto. It shows north at the top of the frame.
The image that captured our hearts, Pluto's love note to Earth. New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) combined four images with colour data from the Ralph instrument to create this sharper global view of Pluto. The images were taken from a distance of 450,000 kilometers away from Pluto and show features as small as 2.2 kilometers.
— NASA (@NASA) July 14, 2015
The baby grand sized New Horizons spacecraft that has helped us discover new and wonderful information about the Pluto su=ystem is powered by a Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator.
The newly discovered mountain rangehas frozen peaks estimated to be 1-1.5 kilometers high and lies near the southwestern margin of Pluto’s Tombaugh Regio (Tombaugh Region), between bright, icy plains and dark, heavily-cratered terrain.