WASHINGTON – After months of enjoying increasingly detailed images of Pluto, we’ve finally reached the peak: the most detailed images acquired by New Horizons during its July flyby of the distant dwarf planet. As it’s unlikely that another Pluto-centric mission will occur anytime soon, we can basically assume that these are the most detailed images many of us will ever see of the alien world.
The Pluto flyby was arguably the scientific highlight of 2015. In a way, it’s fitting that these highest resolution images are coming in just as the year is coming to a close.
The new images have resolutions of about 250-280 feet per pixel, which amounts to features the size of half a city block. We’ve gone from seeing Pluto as a distant, smudgy blur of light to seeing details a few hundred feet in size.
Planetary scientists still have to analyze all of this information to figure out what kind of world Pluto really is — and how it got to be that way. While the year of waiting for better and better views of Pluto has come to an end, our exploration of the dwarf planet is still in its infancy.