Planet? Not a planet? An argument that naturally arises when someone starts talking about what NASA has confirmed as a dwarf planet, Pluto. NASA decided Pluto is not a planet because of its size and location in the solar system.
What’s exciting, is images traveled billions of millions to beam up pictures of the dwarf planet. The clearest and closest of any pictures NASA claims in history!
“New Horizons thrilled us during the July flyby with the first close images of Pluto, and as the spacecraft transmits the treasure trove of images in its onboard memory back to us, we continue to be amazed by what we see,” said John Grunsfeld, a former astronaut and the associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
The New Horizons spacecraft is what Grunsfeld is talking about. The spacecraft took them in July during its closest flyby of Pluto, which is at a distance from Earth that varies from 4.67 billion miles to 2.66 billion miles and they were among the most recent batch sent to back to our planet.
The images show Pluto’s surface has craters, mountains, and glacial terrain along a strip that stretched 50 miles. This is huge because NASA never had images this clear of the surface, so the dwarf planet had only assumptions of what the surface could be.
The images stretch from Pluto’s horizon about 500 miles northwest of Sputnik Planum across the al-Idrisi mountains, over the shoreline of Sputnik and across its icy plains, NASA says.
It will still take about a year to transfer all the photos and data from the New Horizons craft, which first sped past Pluto back in July.
Researchers sit anxiously as they expect more images to come in over the next week, showing even more terrain at the highest resolution possible.