New Horizons Release Pluto Close Up Photos [PICS HERE]
The best resolution images covering over Pluto may have been just taken following New Horizons’ efforts for almost a year. The team put together a long mosaic strip offering the most detailed view of Pluto that anyone may ever see.
In the photo captured by New Horizons, the high resolution mosaic shows a huge swath of Pluto when the team was able to fly in close to the dwarf planet back in July, 2015. While NASA had already released detailed photos of the mosaic before, this marks the first time that those mosaic images were put together.
“This new image product is just magnetic,” Alan Stern, a planetary scientist from Southwest Research Institute and is the New Horizons’ principal investigator via an official NASA press statement. “It makes me want to go back on another mission to Pluto and get high-resolution images like these across the entire surface.”
— NASA (@NASA) May 27, 2016
The image starts at the edge of Pluto and runs hundreds of miles down to the terminator line. The width of the strip is between 45 to 55 miles depending on the viewing angle perspective. Peak resolution is at 260 feet pixel per feet.
"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," adds NASA.
New Horizons used a LORRI camera to capture the shots, flying within 9,850 miles of the surface that lasted about 23 minutes. The terrains were made up of hummocky, cratered uplands, to mountain ranges made of ice, to plains covered with blobs of frozen nitrogen, to dark, rugged highlands.
New Horizons continues to transmit imagery and other data to date as it sets course to a 2019 rendezvous with 2014 MU69, an icy object in the broad band of material known as the ‘Kuiper Belt’.
The images rendered are rare and probably the best one can get to catch a glimpse of the dwarf planet. Unless some other probe gets the chance to come near it, it may take decades before another round of images can be captured and/or covered.