The latest batch of pictures received from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft have revealed details about the geology of Pluto, as well as having showcased a more detailed view of Charon, the largest of the dwarf planet’s five known moons.
“We’re close enough
now that we’re just starting to see Pluto’s geology,” said
New Horizons program scientist Curt Niebur.
The new set of pictures transmitted from 3.3 million miles (5.4
million kilometers) away from our planet reveal distinct surface
features. One snapshot shows a large dark band known as the
The black and white image captured the side of Pluto that always
faces its largest moon called Charon. It shows both the
“tail” of the dark whale-shaped geological feature along
its equator, and a gray area which Niebur explained, is a
“unique” transition region with “dynamic processes
“Among the structures tentatively identified in this new
image are what appear to be polygonal features; a complex band of
terrain stretching east-northeast across the planet,
approximately 1,000 miles long; and a complex region where bright
terrains meet the dark terrains of the whale,” said New
Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern.
“After nine and a half years in flight, Pluto is well worth
the wait,” he added.
The much anticipated July 14 Pluto flyby will witness NASA’s
space probe New Horizons speeding by the dwarf planet at 31,000
In order to record to the second-most massive known dwarf planet,
after the scattered-disc object Eris, NASA’s space probe traveled
more than 3.6 billion miles, only to stay for a few hours so that
us, on Earth, can look at Pluto in a new way.
Since its launch in 2006, the New Horizon spacecraft has been
snapping images of Pluto as it gets closer and closer to the