The latest image from the high resolution black and white camera LORRI shows Pluto from New Horizons. The dwarf planet’s heart-shaped feature rotating into view showing signs that the planet is finding it’s way to become planet again.
That means the dwarf planet’s spotted face will be turned away from New Horizons when it passes by; this is the last time the team will have a chance to see the spots up close. Because eventhough the team has seen these features before, the extra detail in this shot is important to the mission’s Geology, Geophysics and Imaging team.
Astronomers pointed out a collection of vaguely-defined features on the surface of Pluto’s biggest moon Charon.
Now, with this latest capture, the New Horizons team has confirmed that the big dent in the icy rock’s surface is in fact an impact crater, surrounded by a couple of deep canyons; one larger than Earth’s Grand Canyon.
However nobody is going to see New Horizons fly through the Pluto system. At least, not in real time. But you can watch the space probe pass by on your computer. NASA’s awesome visualization team has loaded the flight plan into their Eyes On The Solar System app.
“That is the best map of Pluto, and if they release another one tonight we’ll update it immediately,” says Doug Ellison, a NASA visualization producer.
From the time of Pluto’s discovery in 1930 and all the way until 2006 Pluto was considered a planet. However in 2006 the International Astronomical Union (IAU) formally defined the term planet for the first time and poor little Pluto got left out.