21 September 2015 News

New pictures of ‘surprisingly Earth-like’ Pluto by New Horizons

We’re used to thinking of Pluto as a distinctly alien world. But the latest photos of the dwarf planet make it seem pretty familiar.

The pictures have been transmitted by NASA’s New Horizons after weeks that the spacecraft had spent sending only data and telemetry. The historic Pluto flyby, as performed by New Horizons, had gathered an enormous amount of information, most of which still needs to be sorted. This is why not all of the dramatic pictures of Pluto were available right away.

When new pictures did become available, however, they took our collective breath away.

Features such as mountains, ice and an atmosphere were eerily reminiscent to the Earth’s own Arctic region. As Alan Stern, principal investigator at New Horizons, put it: “Pluto is surprisingly Earth-like in this regard, and no one predicted it.”

As a bonus, you can even view the pictures in colorised format (as author Ian Regan points out “the colour of the atmospheric haze is unknown, so a little artistic license was used”):

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