Looking back at Pluto with images like this gives New Horizons scientists information about Pluto’s hazes and surface properties that they can’t get from images taken on approach. The image was obtained by New Horizons’ Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC) approximately 13,400 miles (21,550 kilometres) from Pluto, about 19 minutes after New Horizons’ closest approach. The image has a resolution of 1,400 feet (430 metres) per pixel. Pluto’s diameter is 1,475 miles (2,374 kilometres).
This feature appears to be a frozen, former lake of liquid nitrogen, located in a mountain range just north of Pluto’s informally named Sputnik Planum. Captured by the New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) as the spacecraft flew past Pluto on 14 July 2015, the image shows the possible lake to be about 20 miles (30 kilometres) across.
Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft got another shot at Venus after a main engine failure during a crucial orbital-insertion burn meant it zipped past the planet on its first attempt in December 2010. The probe spent five years orbiting the Sun so it could catch up with Venus to try again on 7 December. The successful nail-biting manoeuvre is being celebrated by NASA scientists, eager to learn more about the atmosphere and climate of Earth’s enigmatic sister planet.