New higher-resolution views of dwarf planet Pluto, which were obtained by New Horizon’s Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) between 1 and 3 July and before the 4 July anomaly, which saw the spacecraft go into safe mode, have been released.
In the image above and on the disc on the left, a large bright area can be seen on the right side of Pluto’s face – a region that we’ll receive close-up views of when New Horizons makes its flyby of the dwarf planet on 14 July. The three images combined reveal the full extent of a continuous swath of dark terrain that wraps around a good proportion of Pluto’s equatorial region. The western end of the dark terrain (shown on the right image) can be seen to be broken up into a series of dark regularly-spaced spots, each believed to be hundreds of miles in size. Details are beginning to emerge in the bright area north of the dark region, with a series of bright and dark patches just below the centre of the disc.
The colour version of the 3 July image from LORRI was made by adding colour data from the Ralph instrument – also on board New Horizons – which was gathered earlier by the mission.