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NASA releases sharpest images of Pluto’s surface



The New Horizons probe has at last returned some of the super-sharp pictures it took of Pluto during its historic flyby in July.

The images released by the US space agency on Friday show details on the surface of the dwarf planet at a resolution better than 80m per pixel.

On Earth at this scale, one could easily discern a city park.

With New Horizons, we see crystal clear views of mountains, craters and smooth ice fields.

The probe got to about 12,500km from the surface of the dwarf and acquired a mass of pictures and other instrument data.

But because of the vast separation to Earth, and the modest transmitter on New Horizons, the flow of information back home has been extremely slow.

Read also: NASA detects liquid water on Mars

It is expected to take until late 2016 to get everything in the probe’s memory back on the ground.

The mission team prioritised what it wanted to see first, which included some general impressions of Pluto – the broad context. Now, nearly five months on from the flyby, we are being treated to some spectacularly detailed offerings.

The probe continues to move deeper into space. It is now about 167 million km beyond the dwarf planet and some 5.2 billion km from Earth.

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