NASA has released the first of many images taken during New Horizons’ close encounter with dwarf planet Pluto.
And they are, in a word, astounding.
The images include a high-res view of a small patch near Pluto’s equator, in which mountains made of water ice rise 11,000 feet above what appears to be a young, active surface. Charon, Pluto’s largest moon, has also emerged in surprising detail. And then there’s the first image of Hydra, one of the system’s four small moons. Already, these images are challenging views about how small, icy worlds work.
“I think the whole system is amazing,” says New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern. “This system is something wonderful.”
Early on July 14, the New Horizons spacecraft buzzed by Pluto and its five known moons, coming within 8,000 miles (around 13,000 kilometers) of the frosted dwarf planet.
Now that Pluto is in the spacecraft’s past, the team is beginning to dig through the stream of data New Horizons will send to Earth over the next 16 months. Those observations, the first of which arrived at 5:50 a.m. on July 15, include information about Pluto’s atmosphere and composition, as well as the system’s four small moons.
Early images showed that Pluto is a mottled, champagne-colored world that doesn’t look like anything else in the solar system—even if its reddish hue does somewhat resemble Mars.source : http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/07/150715-pluto-flyby-photos-pictures-closeup-space/