As New Horizons speeds ever closer to its historic flyby of Pluto, scheduled for tomorrow, the dwarf planet’s icy surface is becoming more fascinating and complex. The spacecraft’s latest image suggests features that may be cliffs and impact craters.
A couple of days ago, New Horizons captured its latest shot, which tantalisingly hint at new some new features that are of keen interest to New Horizons’ Geology, Geophysics and Imaging (GGI) team, who are based at the John Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Maryland. In the image above, we can see the bright heart-shaped feature slowly starting to rotate into view on the dwarf planet’s left side.
Now less than one million miles to Pluto, the spacecraft has surpassed a major milestone. Once New Horizons completes its journey of more than nine years, which will see the mission complete a distance of around three billion miles.
On Tuesday at 7:49 AM EDT, New Horizons will zip past the dwarf planet Pluto at 49,600 kilometres per hour (30,800 miles per hour), passing within 12,500 kilometres (7,767 miles) of the dwarf planet’s surface and rapidly gathering data of the icy world.
Check out our sister magazine How It Works‘ video to find out more about the New Horizon mission.