The U.S. space agency has released a series of sharp images of Pluto, describing them as the best close-ups we might see of the dwarf planet for decades.
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft photographed Pluto during its July flyby and continues to transmit data stored on its digital recorders.
The latest pictures, released Friday, clearly show a wide variety of cratered, mountainous and glacial terrains, NASA said in a statement.
“These new images give us a breathtaking, super-high resolution window into Pluto’s geology,” New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern said.
WATCH: Views of Pluto from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft during July 2015 flyby
“Nothing of this quality was available for Venus or Mars until decades after their first flybys; yet at Pluto we’re there already – down among the craters, mountains and ice fields – less than five months after flyby,” Stern added. "The science we can do with these images is simply unbelievable."
The images were captured with the telescopic Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) aboard the piano-sized New Horizons, about 15 minutes before the spacecraft’s closest approach to Pluto – from a range of 17,000 kilometers.
Mission scientists expect more snapshots from the most recent set over the next several days, showing even more terrain at this highest resolution.