Nasa releases highest resolution images ever taken of Pluto

  • AFP, Washington
  • Updated: Dec 06, 2015 00:17 IST
This handout picture obtained from NASA on December 5, 2015 shows an image taken from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft showing great blocks of water-ice crust jammed together in the informally named al-Idrisi mountains on the planet Pluto. (AFP Photo)

The US space agency has released a series of sharp Pluto snapshots, billing them as the best close-ups of the dwarf planet we may see for decades.

On July 14, Nasa’s New Horizons became the first spacecraft to pass by Pluto, offering scientists unprecedented insight.

Previously released high-resolution images from that historic flyby have revealed unparalleled geographical variety on the planet, from soaring mountains, to sand dunes and frozen ice floes.

The latest pictures, made available on Friday, are part of a sequence taken near New Horizons’ closest approach to Pluto and show a mix of terrains that are cratered, mountainous and glacial in nature, Nasa said in a statement.

“These new images give us a breathtaking, super-high resolution window into Pluto’s geology,” said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern in the statement.

“Nothing of this quality was available for Venus or Mars until decades after their first flybys; yet at Pluto we’re there already -- down among the craters, mountains and ice fields - less than five months after flyby!” he added.

“The science we can do with these images is simply unbelievable.”

The images have resolutions of some 250 to 280 feet per pixel and form a strip 80 kilometers wide, according to Nasa.

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