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

Share This


Photos: NASA Releases Stunning Up-Close Pictures Of Pluto

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.

It's been nearly two months since NASA's New Horizons spacecraft did a flyby of Pluto, and now we finally get a real up close and personal look at the dwarf planet.

It's going to take NASA a whole year to download all of the photos from the New Horizons flyby on July 14th, but this week they released these stunning images, and noted that their scientists were "reeling" over the pictures because of their "range and complexity."

"If an artist had painted this Pluto before our flyby, I probably would have called it over the top — but that’s what is actually there," New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern said.

Scientists found a bunch of new features they didn't expect to see. They discovered that the mountains they spotted could very well be actual huge chunks of ice blocks floating on frozen nitrogen. They also saw possible dunes on Pluto—if they are in fact actual dunes, it's bizarre because Pluto's atmosphere is so thin today. "Either Pluto had a thicker atmosphere in the past, or some process we haven’t figured out is at work," said William B. McKinnon, a New Horizons imaging lead from Washington University, St. Louis. "It’s a head-scratcher."

Support for LAist comes from

They've also seen craters and valleys, which may have been formed by materials on Pluto flowing over.

Pluto, we still love you, even though you got downgraded from our solar system's ninth planet to a dwarf planet.

Photos: NASA Releases New, Spectacular Images From New Horizons Pluto Flyby
New Horizons Probe Gives Earthlings Their Best Glimpse Of Pluto Ever