The best photos from the New Horizons spacecraft that buzzed Pluto earlier this year are now making their way back to Earth, providing resolutions of less than 100 yards per pixel.
NASA also released a video compiled from the sharpest views of Pluto seen so far from New Horizons during its July 14 flyby, offering a panning view of a 50-mile-wide strip on a world 3 billion miles from Earth.
The new images reveal details of craters and mountains, along with icy plains. With a resolution of around 250-280 feet per pixel, they show geographic features that NASA says “would be smaller than half a city block on Pluto’s diverse surface” — not that the agency is saying there are aliens living on the dwarf planet, of course.
“These new images give us a breathtaking, super-high resolution window into Pluto’s geology,” New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern says, from the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “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. The science we can do with these images is simply unbelievable.”
The images are the first in a series of the closest looks at Pluto that NASA will receive in the coming days.