Probe sends amazing pics of Pluto and Nix

Image: Pluto surface
The New Horizons probe got a look at these craters during its July 14 Pluto flyby. (Credit: NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI)

The hits just keep on coming from NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto: This week’s stunners include views of the surface that look weirder than the terrain in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” plus a close look at Nix, one of Pluto’s five moons.

During its July 14 flyby, the piano-sized New Horizons spacecraft captured a string of pictures showing the eastern edge of a dark region nicknamed Cthulhu Regio and apotential ice volcano called Wright Mons. You can also see light-colored craters that have been partially filled in with darker material.

“Pluto has greatly exceeded our expectations in diversity of land forms and processes — processes that continue to the present,” New Horizons team member Alan Howard, a planetary scientist from the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, said in Thursday’s update from NASA.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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