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By Carolyn Collins Petersen, TheSpacewriter
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More Pluto!

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The Four Faces of Pluto. Courtesy NASA/APL/New Horizons mission

The Hits Just Keep Coming!

Take a look at these four faces of Pluto, dated from just about a week ago and see how much MORE detail we can see. New Horizons is getting closer each second and the proximity is starting to really pay off! Even though they’re not crystal clear (yet) you can clearly see more detailed areas of bright and dark. The images, taken with the Long Rainge Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), give us a telescopic view of the dwarf planet at varying distances. The big thing you notice, as Alan Stern (PI for the New Horizons mission pointed out, is that there are clear evidence of discrete equatorial bright and dark regions. “We can also see that every face of Pluto is different and that Pluto’s northern hemisphere displays substantial dark terrains, though both Pluto’s darkest and its brightest known terrain units are just south of, or on, its equator. Why this is so is an emerging puzzle,” he said.

The comparison, released today with the latest images, really are just an appetite-whetter — although the science teams are wringing every bit of science out of every image they get. The reward is they get to see tantalizing hints of what will turn out to be a complex surface. The next step will be to figure out why the surface is the way it is, and with the flyby coming up, they’ll have ever-better images and data to help them figure it out. It’s a heck of a ride so far, so stay tuned!  (Want more info on the images? Check out this page on the New Horizons site.)

Here’s a little animation to enjoy, too!


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