Pluto has a huge “heart” as revealed in a new and the “most detailed” image of Pluto ever, received from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft as the flyby sequence of science observations has got officially underway.
The US space agency said scientists received this stunning view of Pluto in the early hours of July 8. It said the image, snapped by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), was taken the day before, when the spacecraft was less than 5 million miles (8 million kilometers) from Pluto.
According to NASA, it’s the first image to be received since the July 4 anomaly, which had sent the spacecraft into safe mode. The view is mainly focused on the area that will be seen in close-up during New Horizons’ July 14 (Bastille Day).
“This side of Pluto is dominated by three broad regions of varying brightness. Most prominent are an elongated dark feature at the equator, informally known as ‘the whale’, and a large heart-shaped bright area measuring some 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometers) across on the right. Above those features is a polar region that is intermediate in brightness,” the agency explained.
Jeff Moore, geologist, geophysicist and imaging team leader of NASA’s Ames Research Center, has promised that the next time scientists get to see this part of Pluto a “portion of this region will be imaged at about 500 times better resolution than we see today.”
“It will be incredible!” he said.