Pluto Up Close

With the New Horizons spacecraft successfully making its flyby of Pluto, we are now getting the first close up images of this distant world. The spacecraft went into radio silence for 22 hours while it maneuvered to photograph Pluto and its moons. The first signal returned was simply a full status report, and only now, a day later are we beginning to see the imagery returned. Given the 2.9 billion miles between the spacecraft and Earth, it will take about 16 months to get all of the data back.

The first images are fascinating! Eleven thousand foot high ice mountains create a rugged landscape. I find myself waiting for further images, the surface of Pluto promises to be far different than any terrain we have seen elsewhere in the solar system.

The Mountains of Pluto
New close-up images of a region near Pluto’s equator reveal a giant surprise: a range of youthful mountains rising as high as 11,000 feet (3,500 meters) above the surface of the icy body. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

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