Take A Trip Down The Strip — Best Closeups Of Pluto Yet

Slices from a mosaic strip of the highest resolution images taken by New Horizons during last July's flyby of Pluto. Click to see the full resolution version. Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
Slices from a mosaic strip of the highest resolution images taken by New Horizons during last July’s flyby of Pluto. Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

A new, detailed mosaic slice of Pluto, which I’ve chopped into seven pieces, each representing a sample of a different terrain, was released by NASA on May 27. It includes all of the highest-resolution images taken by NASA’s New Horizons probe as it flew past Pluto on July 14 last year. It extends across the hemisphere that faced the New Horizons spacecraft during the flyby and resolves features down to just 260 feet (80 meters) across. now includes all of the highest-resolution images taken by the NASA probe.

Click to see the hi-resolution version of the "noodle" mosaic across the hemisphere seen up close by New Horizons last July. Credit:
Click to see the hi-resolution version of the “noodle” mosaic across the hemisphere seen up close by New Horizons last July. Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

The view extends from the “limb” of Pluto at the top of the strip, almost to the day/night line, called the terminator, in the southeast of the encounter hemisphere, seen at the bottom of the strip. The width of the strip ranges from more than 55 miles (90 kilometers) at its northern end to about 45 miles (75 kilometers) at its southern end. The perspective changes greatly along the strip: at its northern end, the view looks out horizontally across the surface, while at its southern end, the view looks straight down onto the surface.


New Horizons’ Extreme Closeup of Pluto’s Surface

In the movie, the camera pans down the mosaic from top to bottom, offering new views of many of Pluto’s distinct landscapes along the way. Starting with hummocky, cratered uplands at top, the view crosses over parallel ridges of the “washboard” terrain; chaotic and angular mountain ranges; the craterless, cellular nitrogen plains; coarsely “pitted” areas of sublimating nitrogen ice; zones of thin nitrogen ice draped over the topography below; and rugged, dark, mountainous highlands scarred by deep pits.

The pictures in the mosaic were taken approximately 9,850 miles (15,850 kilometers) from Pluto, about 23 minutes before New Horizons’ closest approach.