Not even 11 months ago, NASA’s New Horizons swiftly flew past Pluto completely changing what we thought the dwarf planet was like. Active geology, a hazy blue atmosphere, and a complex space environment are just some of the mysteries we have started to unlock thanks to the data that the spacecraft is still sending.
With a resolution of 80 meters (260 feet) per pixel, the latest batch of data contains the highest resolution image of the Plutonian surface. The mosaic strip extends across the visible hemisphere and it was taken on July 14, 2015, about 23 minutes before closest approach.
The image, which can be viewed in a zoomable version here, stretches from the cratered northern hemisphere, through the "heart," with its floating mountains, to the dark scarred highlands near the "terminator," the day/night light.
“This new image product is just magnetic,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator from Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado. “It makes me want to go back on another mission to Pluto and get high-resolution images like these across the entire surface."
New Horizons is currently en route towards its next target, 2014 MU69, a small icy inhabitant of the Kuiper Belt, which might be a frozen time capsule from the formation of the Solar System.