Just 15 minutes after its closest approach to Pluto on 14 July, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft looked back toward the Sun and captured this near-sunset view of the rugged, icy mountains and flat ice plains extending to Pluto’s horizon.
The smooth expanse of the informally named icy plain Sputnik Planum (shown to the right of the image) is flanked to the west (shown to the left of the image) by rugged mountains up to 11,000 feet (3,500 metres) high, including the informally named Norgay Montes in the foreground and Hillary Montes on the skyline. To the right, east of Sputnik, rougher terrain is cut by apparent glaciers. The backlighting highlights more than a dozen layers of haze in Pluto’s tenuous but distended atmosphere. The image was taken from a distance of 18,000 kilometres (11,000 miles) to Pluto – the scene is 1,250 kilometres (780 miles) wide.