Pluto’s stunning, hazy crescent captured in images from New Horizons team

The picture was taken just 15 minutes after New Horizons’ Pluto flyby — and Nasa’s teams have spent the time since assembling the image

Andrew Griffin
Friday 30 October 2015 13:20

Nasa has released perhaps its most stunning photo of Pluto yet — showing its hazy, bright crescent.

The picture has been released as part of the New Horizons mission, which sent a probe flying past Pluto in July.

Because the dwarf planet is lit up from behind, the various layers that make up its atmosphere can be seen. There are more than a dozen high-altitude layers visible.

The picture was taken by New Horizons, just 15 minutes after it completely the closest approach of its flyby on July 14. The spacecraft took the picture looking backwards, towards the sun.

A version of the picture was released in September. But at that time the picture was incomplete — and now Nasa’s teams have filled in the rest.

Lit up on the right of the planet in the image can be seen the icy plain that is called “Sputnik Planum”. Avoce that are huge mountains up to 3,500 meters high, and below is rough terrain with glaciers.

The streaks coming down above Pluto are stars, which have been smeared by the movement of the spacecraft.

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