New images of Pluto, sent back to Earth from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, are unveiling more surprises about the dwarf planet on the fringe of the observable solar system. Released over the last two days, the images are higher resolution than the ones released in July, when the spacecraft flew within 8,000 miles of Pluto’s surface. In the new set, landforms such as a chaotic patch of jumbled terrain, linear features resembling wind-sculpted dunes, and oozy nitrogen ice flows are sharp and in-focus.
When seen in silhouette, Pluto’s puffy nitrogen atmosphere, carved into hazy layers, steals the show. It’s even possible to see atmospheric rays that appear at dawn and dusk, as well as the bumpy, uneven outlines formed by features on Pluto’s surface (see image in the gallery above). In other words, we’re seeing Plutonian valleys, mountains and craters at twilight.