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).
NASA’s Kepler planet-searching spacecraft is stable and out of emergency mode, officials said Monday, and the observatory is downlinking data to help engineers determine what caused it to suspend science operations last week.
What is the origin of the large heart-shaped nitrogen glacier on Pluto revealed by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft in 2015? Two French researchers show that Pluto’s peculiar insolation and atmosphere favour nitrogen condensation near the equator, in the lower altitude regions, leading to an accumulation of ice at the bottom of Sputnik Planum, a vast topographic basin.