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).
On the final stretch of a speedy nine-year trek through the solar system, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will be awakened from hibernation Dec. 6 for an encounter with Pluto, a mysterious world that has captured imaginations and will soon be revealed in reality.
For the first time, an international team of scientists from NASA, the Institute of Planetology and Astrophysics of Grenoble (IPAG), the European Space Agency and Aalto University in Finland, have predicted that colourful, glowing aurorae can be seen by the naked eye on a terrestrial planet other than Earth — Mars.
In the latter part of June, Pluto is best seen low in the southern UK sky around 2am local time and reaches opposition on 7 July. The dwarf planet passes less than 1/20th of a degree south of naked-eye star pi (π) Sagittarii on 26—27 June in the deep twilight of the UK, but Southern Hemisphere observers will have the best views.