Have you seen the latest New Horizons photos? This panorama was taken from the back of the planet, looking back toward the sun as the probe flew by earlier this summer.
New Horizons continues to surprise us with the photos it snapped on its July 14 flyby of Pluto, one of the most distant bodies in our solar system. According to a report from Space.com, one of the most recent photos transmitted back to Earth includes a dazzling snapshot of the sun setting over the planet’s horizon.
Viewers can see the massive ice mountains looming in the shot, casting long shadows throughout the dozen layers of the ghastly atmosphere on the dwarf planet.
According to New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, CO, “This image really makes you feel you are there, at Pluto, surveying the landscape for yourself. But this image is also a scientific bonanza, revealing new details about Pluto’s atmosphere, mountains, glaciers, and plains.”
The photo consists of a panorama stitched together by researchers back on Earth. It spans a 780-mile stretch of land, captured by the spacecraft’s wide-angle Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera as it shot past the dwarf planet. The images of the sunset were taken just 15 minutes after the probe made its closest pass.
Looking back toward the sun as it shot past Pluto, New Horizons snapped the sunset shot at a distance of only 11,000 miles. Viewers can see Pluto’s Norgay Montes and Hillary Montes, the two mysterious icy mountain ranges that tower as high as 11,000 feet over the planet’s surface.
The photo also reveals the atmosphere of Pluto, which is dominated by nitrogen gas. New Horizons has offered a plethora of new information about the strange dwarf planet, and researchers continue to sift through the massive amounts of data collected to learn more about the distant world.