NASA Releases Stunning Photos Of Pluto

NBC reports:

A new set of images has been received from the New Horizons spacecraft, showing close-up images of Pluto taken on July 15 (and only just recently processed) while it was passing by the dwarf planet at high speed — but not so fast it couldn’t see terrain so varied it’s astonishing astronomers. “If an artist had painted this Pluto before our flyby, I probably would have called it over the top — but that’s what is actually there,” said the mission’s principal investigator, Alan Stern, in a NASA release. With wide plains, mountains and valleys, deltas implying moving liquids, and a dozen other features, Pluto has a far more complicated surface than many astronomers and geologists expected. This complexity offers a hint at Pluto’s past. There may even be dunes — which implies strong winds, which no one expected to find on the dwarf planet. “Seeing dunes on Pluto — if that is what they are — would be completely wild, because Pluto’s atmosphere today is so thin,” said William McKinnon, deputy lead of the Geology, Geophysics and Imaging team. “Either Pluto had a thicker atmosphere in the past, or some process we haven’t figured out is at work.”

New Horizons is already more than 43 million miles past Pluto.