New Horizons Spots Strange 'Snail-Like' Object Sliding Over Pluto's Surface [Photo]

Tara West

The New Horizons interplanetary space probe has sent back some of its highest-resolution images of the dwarf planet's surface. However, one photo is gaining attention due to a strange "snail-like" object that seemingly slides across the icy planet's surface. The strange image was transmitted to Earth on December 24.

The Daily Mail reports that a strange object in the shape of a snail was found in one of the high resolution image sent back to Earth by the New Horizons space probe. The image shows the icy white plane of Pluto along with a darker object appearing in the shape of a snail that is gliding across the surface. Though the dark object is shaped oddly, NASA officials say the object is nothing more than a dirty block of ice.

— TechEBlog (@techeblog) January 9, 2016

"'X' marks the spot of some intriguing surface activity in the latest picture of Pluto returned from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft."
"This part of Pluto is acting like a lava lamp, if you can imagine a lava lamp as wide as, and even deeper than, the Hudson Bay."

The Pluto snail image isn't the only incredible image taken by the New Horizons flyby of the icy dwarf planet. Numerous other high resolution photos were also sent back to Earth that show the icy cratered plains of the distant planet in striking detail.

This video, compiled by NASA, shows the sharpest views of Pluto obtained by the New Horizons spacecraft. The images are noted as being from a sequence of photographs taken near New Horizons' closest approach to Pluto. The resolutions of the images are about 250-280 feet-per-pixel. Considering that Pluto is a staggering 2.66 billion miles away from earth, images as close as 250-feet are rather impressive.

Another interesting photo of Pluto taken by the New Horizons spacecraft is the Viking Terra area.

"Among the features scientists find particularly interesting are the bright methane ices that condensed on many crater rims; the collection of dark red tholins (small soot-like particles generated from reactions involving methane and nitrogen in the atmosphere) in low areas, like the bottoms of craters; and the layering on the faces of steep cliffs and on crater walls."

What do you think about the amazing new high resolution photos from the New Horizons spacecraft? Are you looking forward to the release of additional high resolution Pluto images in the near future?