Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

News

New High-Res Photo Shows Pluto Like You've Never Seen Her Before

Stories like these are only possible with your help!
You have the power to keep local news strong for the coming months. Your financial support today keeps our reporters ready to meet the needs of our city. Thank you for investing in your community.

NASA's New Horizons, the spacecraft that has been on a deep space mission since 2006, has sent down a razor-sharp new photo of Pluto and dang—it's awesome.

The full-res, 67.5 mb photo—which you can download here— is tens of millions of pixels of incredible detail. According to science and tech blog io9, there are features visible just 0.8 miles across, allowing you to zoom way, way in and explore the landscape and crevices of Pluto from your computer screen. The photo shows a surprising batch of colors, curious textures and terrain that had yet to be seen by scientists.

William McKinnon, a member of the New Horizons team who specializes in geology, geophysics, and imaging, said in a statement, "It's a unique and perplexing landscape stretching over hundreds of miles. It looks more like tree bark or dragon scales than geology," reports ABC News. NASA accounts for the different tones and textures seen in the photo, writing that, "Many landforms have their own distinct colors, telling a complex geological and climatological story that scientists have only just begun to decode."

The photos have a purpose beyond inspiring awe to us mere Earthlings; the detailed shots will help scientists examine and interpret the geological and climatological processes that produced the complex surface features seen on Pluto.

Support for LAist comes from

Editing the photo was a painstaking process for imaging team scientist Alex Parker, who said it took nearly a week to get it right. He tweeted:

I'll say.

New Horizons is 9 years in to a 3 billion mile journey to Pluto, and flew past the dwarf planet and its moons this July. According to the New Horizons' website, "the spacecraft is expected to head farther into the Kuiper Belt to examine another of the ancient, icy mini-worlds in that vast region, at least a billion miles beyond Neptune's orbit."

You really should download the original hi-res photo yourself, but if you can't, here are some close-ups of the image tweeted by Parker this week:

Support for LAist comes from

Related:
Photos: NASA Releases Stunning Up-Close Pictures Of Pluto