If you thought Wednesday's eerie up-close photos of Pluto and Charon were jaw-dropping, check out the second wave of detailed shots from NASA's New Horizons team based at Maryland's Johns Hopkins University.
Today's press briefing brought further evidence of the astonishing images gathered as the spacecraft zipped by Pluto on Tuesday, July 14. The historic probe is currently zooming 2.4 million miles past the system, staring at the dwarf planet's night side and transmitting its provocative payload back to Earth. Only 1-2% of the total data acquired is officially on the ground since the encounter occurred, a mere fraction of the 230GB flood of information to come..
The latest image focused on the icy frozen plains of Pluto, now named Sputnik Planum, with stark geologic contrasts visible. Two flyover terrain videos were showcased, the Norgay Montes Flyover and the Sputnik Planum Flyover, captured as if soaring just 25 miles above the surface, with spectacular sights like vast craterless plains etched with pits and grooves and impressive mountain ranges the size of the Rockies.
These enigmatic features will be further dissected and analyzed once the higher-resolution data packs are slowly downloaded in the coming weeks and months. Remember that all this is being accomplished over extraordinary distances with the craft's pre-high-speed transmission technology of 2005.
For now, check out this awesome astronomical eye candy and stay tuned to Blastr for our continuing coverage.
(Via NASA New Horizons)