Pluto Gets Stunning Close-Ups From NASA [Photos]

Pluto, being at the end of our solar system, is the planet that has the least information available. NASA has been making great strides in discovering more about our solar system, and the latest discovery is the surface pictures of Pluto.

The images taken are six-times sharper that any photo previously taken of the planet. The images were captured from 10,000 miles away, and a 50-mile wide strip of terrain was captured. The photos of Pluto are so detailed that they reveal areas as small as 250-feet wide, which would be the size of an average city block.

Pluto’s pictures were taken by the New Horizons probe, which flew by the small planet in July. The scientists at NASA have learned so much about Pluto from these captured images. It has allowed them to learn more about the planet and leaves them amazed and stumped by the beautifully bizarre terrain.

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Alan Stern, principal investigator for the mission spoke on the mystery and wonder.

“These new images give us a breathtaking, super-high resolution window into Pluto’s geology. Nothing of this quality was available for Venus or Mars until decades after their first flybys; yet at Pluto we’re there already — down among the craters, mountains and ice fields — less than five months after flyby!”

There has been a lot discovered in the strip of Pluto that has been photographed. The high-resolution close-ups reveal a icy and harsh landscape across Sputnik Planum, the al-Idrisi peaks, to the plains of the heart-shaped Tombaugh Region. Deputy lead of the Geology, Geophysics and Imaging team, William McKinnon, states the benefits the scientific world will gain from these new images.

“These high-res close-ups will help NASA, geologists, planetologists, and the entire scientific world understand how Pluto was formed.”

Pluto’s images reveal “great blocks of Pluto’s water-ice crust appear jammed together in the informally named al-Idrisi mountains,” NASA explained. They appear to actually be massive blocks of ice, which “have been jostled and tumbled and somehow transported to their present locations.” One of the most remarkable discoveries is the icy plains of Sputnik Planum where it intersects with an even icier mountain range.

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John Spencer, a member of the NASA team, is truly stunned by the Pluto images received.

“The new details revealed here, particularly the crumpled ridges in the rubbly material surrounding several of the mountains, reinforce our earlier impression that the mountains are huge blocks that have been jostled and tumbled and somehow transported to their present locations.”

Pluto still has a lot to be discovered, in recent years, scientists have gone from classifying it as a planet, removing that classification, and then assigning it once again. These images being captured by New Horizon will not only allow us to know more about the planet, but will finally determine if Pluto should be classified as a planet and end the debate.

NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, John Grunsfeld, states that the close-ups of Pluto show how powerful the robot explorers NASA has built truly are.

“New Horizons thrilled us during the July flyby with the first images of Pluto, and as the spacecraft transmits the treasure trove of (pictures) in its onboard memory back to us, we continue to be amazed by what we see.”

Pluto is in store for more photo shoots, as New Horizons is on its way to the Kuiper Belt. The further away the explorer goes makes it header to beam back all of the data it recorded during its flight, flyby, and departure. NASA however promises that there will be more images in the coming days. The entire mission is estimated to take 16 months.

Pluto is seen as the icy planet and here are the images to show why.

[Image by NASA]