NASA Shares Pluto Image Acquired by New Horizons

Posted on July 9, 2015

Pluto image showing heart-shaped feature

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is closing in on Pluto. The latest photograph was taken from about 8 million kilometers (5 million miles) away. The spacecraft's closest approach to Pluto will take place on July 14.

The latest image was taken by New Horizons' Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) yesterday. It was been combined with lower-resolution color information from the Ralph instrument. The image contains a heart-shaped feature on the right side. Other features in the photograph have been dubbed "the whale" and "the donut" by NASA. Close-ups of these images can be found here on Nasa.gov.

Pluto image showing whale and donut shaped features


Alex Parker, a planetary astronomer at SwRI working on NASA's New Horizons mission, said in a tweet yesterday, "More Pluto! A bunch of us got up at 5AM this morning to process this data as fast as possible."

He also noted the heart-shaped image on the Pluto photograph:



New Horizons has been on its mission to Pluto since January 2006 - over nine years. NASA says the resolution will be 500 times greater when New Horizons makes its final approach.

Jeff Moore, Geology, Geophysics and Imaging Team Leader of NASA’s Ames Research Center, says in a statement, "The next time we see this part of Pluto at closest approach, a portion of this region will be imaged at about 500 times better resolution than we see today. It will be incredible!"

Photo: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI