New Pluto images

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thumbnail of Pluto closeup

Cool image time! The New Horizons team has released some new images. A thumbnail of what I think is the most interesting image is shown on the right. Be sure to look at the full resolution image. It shows a flat plain of what look like frozen polygon plates with a thin layer of what appear to be dunes. In the center some rocks poke out like islands, with what looks like a wind-swept wake to the right. The wake could be caused by Pluto’s very thin atmosphere. Or maybe there are currents that slowly push the frozen plates past the harder rocks (which probably are ice, which in Pluto’s very cold environment has the structural strength of granite).

These images were posted on the New Horizons website with no accompanying press release. I think the science team has decided it will just upload them, and reserve press releases for when they have accumulated enough data to announce some intelligent conclusions. Right now, they can only speculate as wildly as I from these images. It is reasonable to give them the time to assess the data more closely before announcing any explanations. At the same time, we should also congratulate them for posting the images immediately so that others can see them.

Update: a press release was released, though it really doesn’t add much except review the images.

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