New Horizon’s Best Close-up of Pluto’s Surface

Yesterday, the New Horizons team released another dramatic video sequence, perhaps the most detailed of all to date

A progression of four views as we proceed southeast to northwest along the encounter hemisphere


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The southwest most section of the latest New Horizons strip, showing the nitrogen-ice covered craters and planes
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Continuing northwest along the strip we see a transition ridge from the rougher, more crated section to a smoother, more mottled nitrogen-ice covered plane

 

 

 

 

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Continuing southeast along the strip the terrain begins to change dramatically from the smooth, mottled surface of the nitrogen-ice covered plane to a more rugged mountainous, cratered region
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As the strip ends at its northwest extent, we see the nitrogen snow and ice-covered mountains, valleys and craters, rugged features that are in deep shadow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The view extends from Pluto’s limb at the top of the strip, almost to the day-night terminator in the southeast of the encounter hemisphere. The width of the strip ranges from more than 90 kilometers at its northern end to about 75 kilometers at its southern point. The perspective changes greatly along the strip: at its northern end, the view looks out horizontally across the surface, while at its southern end, the view looks straight down onto the surface.


As the ongoing download of New Horizon‘s stored data continues, more and more of it is becoming available and will be nominally available in its entirety towards mid-November of this year. As that downlink continues, NASA scientists and engineers continue to release stunning images and video of Pluto and its frigid realm, each more stunning and spectacular than the last. It is interesting to note that as the spacecraft speeds further and further towards the Kuiper belt, on its way towards interstellar space, and as the images and data continue to trickle down through NASA’s DSN, Pluto slips further and further into its long, deep winter which will last approximately 62 earth years.

The video is a tapestry of all of the highest resolution images obtained during the July 14, 2015 flyby with the LORRI high resolution imaging telescope aboard the spacecraft. As we progress through the video, moving “down” along the mosaic, we’re offered new views of many of Pluto’s distinct landscapes along the way. Starting with hummocky, cratered uplands at top, the view crosses over parallel ridges of “washboard” terrain, chaotic and angular mountain ranges, cellular plains, coarsely “pitted” areas of sublimating nitrogen ice, zones of thin nitrogen ice draped over the topography below, and dark mountainous highlands scarred by deep pits.

Imagination is more important than knowledge 585px-Albert_Einstein_signature_1934(invert)
An index of all articles in this blog can be found here.

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