CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – The spigot has opened again, and Pluto pictures are pouring in once more from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. These newest snapshots reveal an even more diverse landscape than scientists imagined before New Horizons swept past Pluto in July.
In one picture, dark ancient craters border much younger icy plains. Dark ridges also are visible, and some scientists speculate they might be dunes. One outer solar-system geologist says if the ridges are, in fact, dunes, that would be “wild” given Pluto’s thin atmosphere. The jumble of mountains may be huge blocks of ice floating in a softer, vast deposit of frozen nitrogen.
After several weeks of collecting engineering data from New Horizons, scientists started getting fresh Pluto pictures last weekend. The latest images were released Thursday.