After a more than nine-year, three-billion-mile journey to Pluto, the New Horizon spacecraft is starting to send back the most detailed photos of Pluto mankind has ever seen.
This image, taken on July 7, 2015, when the spacecraft was just under 5 million miles of Pluto, shows the dwarft planet is dominated by three broad regions of varying brightness. Most prominent are an elongated dark feature at the equator, informally known as “the whale,” and a large heart-shaped bright area measuring some 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometers) across on the right.
“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,” said Jeff Moore, Geology, Geophysics and Imaging Team Leader of NASA’s Ames Research Center. “It will be incredible!”