The New Horizons spacecraft sailed past Pluto as scheduled and has returned images and data from its close flyby July 14. Several of the tantalizing close approach images are shown below.
The highest resolution, full face, true colour image of Pluto has just been released.
More about this image and full caption is available here: Full-res Pluto
New Horizon looked back at Pluto after flyby to get a silhouette and discovered an atmospheric haze surrounds the planet.
More on this image can be found here: Pluto Haze
A new close-up image of an equatorial region near the base of Pluto’s bright heart-shaped feature shows a mountain range with peaks jutting as high as 11,000 feet (3,500 meters) above the surface of the icy body.The mountains on Pluto likely formed no more than 100 million years ago -- mere youngsters in a 4.56-billion-year-old solar system. This suggests the close-up region, which covers about one percent of Pluto’s surface, may still be geologically active today.“This is one of the youngest surfaces we’ve ever seen in the solar system,” said Jeff Moore of the New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging Team (GGI) at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. Unlike the icy moons of giant planets, Pluto cannot be heated by gravitational interactions with a much larger planetary body. Some other process must be generating the mountainous landscape.“This may cause us to rethink what powers geological activity on many other icy worlds,” says GGI deputy team leader John Spencer at SwRI.
In the centre left of Pluto’s vast heart-shaped feature – informally named “Tombaugh Regio” - lies a vast, craterless plain that appears to be no more than 100 million years old, and is possibly still being shaped by geologic processes. This frozen region is north of Pluto’s icy mountains and has been informally named Sputnik Planum (Sputnik Plain), after Earth’s first artificial satellite. The surface appears to be divided into irregularly-shaped segments that are ringed by narrow troughs. Features that appear to be groups of mounds and fields of small pits are also visible. This image was acquired by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on July 14 from a distance of 48,000 miles (77,000 kilometers). Features as small as one-half mile (1 kilometer) across are visible. The blocky appearance of some features is due to compression of the image.
More at Universe Today HERE and from NASA/JPL HERE