We've been pretty impressed with this round of images from NASA's New Horizons mission. The pictures — which were taken during the probe's super-fast flyby through the Pluto system back in July, but have only just begun to downlink in their full resolution — reveal a dynamic and exciting surface for the dwarf planet and its moons.
The image at the top of the post speaks for itself. The sharpest ever color image of Pluto in its entirety — well, it's breathtaking. Beautiful, complex, dazzling, etc.
We recommend downloading it directly from NASA's website, so that you can zoom in and drool over it as you please.
But wait, there's more:
The image above shows the separation between night and day on Pluto, revealing strange mountain ridges.
“It’s a unique and perplexing landscape stretching over hundreds of miles,” said William McKinnon, New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging team deputy lead said in a statement. “It looks more like tree bark or dragon scales than geology. This’ll really take time to figure out; maybe it’s some combination of internal tectonic forces and ice sublimation driven by Pluto’s faint sunlight.”
And that's not the only amazing texture we get to see. Check out this shot:
This is some of the highest resolution we've ever seen Pluto in. With enhanced color, we can see what look like dunes, cliffs, and mountains.
“With these just-downlinked images and maps, we’ve turned a new page in the study of Pluto beginning to reveal the planet at high resolution in both color and composition,” New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern said. “I wish Pluto’s discoverer Clyde Tombaugh had lived to see this day.”