NASA's Stunning New Images of Pluto After a 3 Billion Mile Journey - Updated

NASA New Horizons spacecraft has officially arrived at Pluto and the Kuiper belt after a decade in space. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden stated, "Once again we have achieved a historic first. The United States is the first nation to reach Pluto, and with this mission has completed the initial survey of our solar system, a remarkable accomplishment that no other nation can match." Accomplishments aside, these are the clearest images we have ever seen of Pluto.

The New Horizons vehicle has traveled nearly 3 billion miles to get these first flyby shots of Pluto. After that it will explore the five moons that surround the planet. According to NASA, the vehicle is in information gathering mode currently, and they should have a clearer picture of other images capture by 9 p.m. tonight. The initial images were taken by the New Horizons' Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) at a distance of 476,000 miles (768,000 kilometers) from the surface of Pluto. The images provide clear images of the surface of Pluto, and a view at the "heart" of the planet. According to NASA, it initially appears featureless in terms of topographical measurements but could be a hotbed for geological activity.

You can follow along with all of the action on Twitter by following the hashtag #PlutoFlyby and following @NASAHQPHOTO and @NASANewHorizons. You can find the full Flickr album here.

Update 7/15/15

The New Horizions' space craft has "phoned home" signaling to NASA that is has made it's successful flyby of Pluto. With that ping back to earth came more images from the surface. Earlier today NASA tweeted out this video showing the "icy mountains" of Pluto. 

 

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21 Comments

Alice Avenne's picture

I don't understand all that american nationalist pride. IMO americans are citizens of the world. After all their ancestors were english, irish, spanish, portuguese and so forth. There's no such thing as an american except for native americans of course. I'd rather see it as an accomplishment by all of mankind, no need to go shouting USA, waving flags and wearing Bush t-shirts, that is just silly.

Stuart Bailey's picture

Speaking as a silly AMERICAN of European descent with my flag in one hand, I congratulate the team for a monumental achievement! Can't wait to see more images!

Alice Avenne's picture

It's the "remarquable accomplishment that no other nation can match" bit that upsets me, 'bit over the top wouldn't you say? The cold war is over and so is the wiener measuring contest therefore the phrase is just silly.

Miles Bergstrom's picture

My view on it, is that this is the first time anyone has been able to get a man made object this close to Pluto. Regardless of what nation was able to do it first. For this team, this has to be one if not the biggest days in their lives. To see a project 15 years in the making come to a culmination in a spectacular way.

Prefers Film's picture

America has failed in so many other ways, I totally understand taking pride in this achievement.

Mr Blah's picture

Same could be said about Olympics, international sports competition, etc etc...

It's got nothing to do with the amazing accomplishment made.

Rob LaRosa's picture

That's what you got out of this article? Sounds like you have an agenda to me.

Alice Avenne's picture

An agenda? Yeah right, are you going to accuse me of being one of the lizard people now?

Sean Gibson's picture

Maybe it's because American tax dollars go towards paying for these types of things.... dummy!

Alice Avenne's picture

It's fine to say that you are proud that your country did this but saying that no other nation can match it is offensive and reminds me of communist propaganda in soviet Russia

Sean Gibson's picture

I just think it's funny that you are calling out American for having pride while exploring the universe on this post, and on another topic yesterday you called-out America by saying "It's not the center of the universe". HA.... you are literally all over the map. PS. the article was saying no other country can match the accomplishment (not that they can't achieve it). That's how I read it anyway.

Doug Birling's picture

was the nationalistic language over the top... maybe. But I'll gladly take a look at those Pluto images that Country X took first! :-)

Alice Avenne's picture

That should be the spirit! :)

Spy Black's picture

"Maybe it's because American tax dollars go towards paying for these types of things..."

Well of course, they have to justify the monies spent by the American public in financing this project, so you're going to hear commentary like the one Mr Bolden made. NASA is always on the shìt end of the congress and senate when it comes to financing projects, so this kind of talk is necessary for them to justify their causes.

However, I bet you right now a lot of people at NASA are wishing they would've push a lot harder 15 years ago (when this project started development) for funding to include a rover with this mission. I know I do. Funding for this was unfortunately restricted by, well, guess who? A project like this would've benefited greatly from an international coalition, where better funding and resources could have been attained, and a more sophisticated mission could have been executed.

Deleted Account's picture

I'm not sure a rover could survive long on such a cold, dimly lit world, but it'd be neat if one could.

Andrew Craft's picture

I am an american. I take no pride in being born in a certain place. Nationalism is the most dangerous religion in the world. It allows us to murder people and approve of it simply because of the place we live. Nationalism destroys creativity, progress and individuality. It turns brother against brother over a multicolored cloth.

Michael Higa's picture

Congratulations America! Well done.

Mokhtar Chahine's picture

God is great, Such science stenghthens my faith. Thank you America.
"Sub7an Allah"

Anonymous's picture

Only this small photo or there is a bigger one ?

Spy Black's picture

Data throughput coming from Pluto is lower than dial-up modems from the 90s. Low-res shots come relatively fast, but all the full res images will take months to transmit. NASA will probably release the images piecemeal as they come in, but it will be months before all the data is received.

Marius Pettersen's picture

Congrats! Though, I'm still hoping for some sort of official world agency for exploring the world and space on every level. Think of what we could accomplish with NASA, ESA, CERN and every other Tier 1 agencies combined. With every involved country (except Greece (^^,)) throwing some money in the pot.