NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has provided the best look at Pluto’s surface to date, and NASA has assembled the images into a pleasant video, as well as a high-resolution image strip you can check out for yourself. The image shows approximately 260ft of Pluto’s surface per pixel, and is a strip of the face photographed while New Horizons’ flew by last July. The spacecraft was within 23 minutes of its closest point to the planet when it took the images.
As you can see in the video, the image represents a very long strip of Pluto, with the top part showing what NASA calls the “Hummocky cratered uplands” — a span of seemingly smooth surface pocked with impact craters of all sizes. From there, the image shows the rocky, very different “Washboard terrain,” a name no doubt derived from its heavily disrupted, mountainous surface.
Keep scrolling, and you’ll get to the aptly named “Chaotic, blocky mountains,” a collection of mountains that look like off-kilter blocks. The cellular nitrogen ice plains follow, and they look like a close up scan of some sandy space with striations mixed throughout (NASA has talked about these before). This area covers a very large region.
Below it are the non-cellular nitrogen ice plains, then the pitted, hummocky nitrogen ice plains. This leads into the rugged dark highlands, at which point we’ve spanned many, many miles and reached the end. An impressive range of landscape types were captured in the strip, the width of which cover between 45 miles and 55 miles.