New Horizons left Florida's Cape Canaveral launch pad on January 19, 2006, arrived over Pluto more than nine years later on July 14, 2015, and finally gave scientists its first images over Labor Day weekend, when its year-long, tediously slow data dump first began. Coming in at 2,000 bits per second (1/28th the speed of dial-up), these images - many of which are composited in various ways to form a final image - finally shed some light on what secrets Pluto's surface, atmosphere, and core might hold. All told, the results give sci-fi fanatics a run for their money.
Before today, all of the images you had seen of Pluto were either drawn or mocked up by artists, or looked like this:
Thanks to the New Horizons mission, scientists now have fascinating clues about what Pluto's now-thin, but apparently multilayered atmosphere used to look like. What appear to be wind-blown dunes give clues to a possibly thicker atmosphere in Pluto's past. And a multifaceted surface as or more complicated than that of Mars has similarities to Jupiter's Europa, which is thought to have tectonic activity similar to that of Earth.