Here's What Pluto Actually Looks Like

by
Indrani Sengupta
Quick! Answer this: What does Pluto look like? Do you have an image in your head? Is it blurry and unclear? Well, that's about to change

UPDATE:

On Tuesday, July 14th, New Horizons passed within 7,767 miles of Pluto, and took the following picture:

The best part? There are better, clearer pictures to come! Keep your eye on this page for more.

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Growing up, many of us were under the impression that Pluto looked something like this:

Pluto news

And this:

Charon news

It hadn't occurred to some of us that most of the “photos” of Pluto and its moon, Charon, that we saw in and out of school were actually artist impressions. We didn't actually know what Pluto looked like. The best we had was this fuzzy dot, sometimes blown up in proportion, and the faintest sense that Pluto was waiting, just out of reach, to be seen.

Pluto-Charon

Pluto and its moon Charon

Now, thanks to NASA's New Horizon's spacecraft, which was launched 9 years ago from Cape Canaveral, all of that is beginning to change.

Behold, the clearest image of Pluto to date:

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft took the image

The image was taken by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) from a distance of just 8 million km from the (former) planet.

Some social mediaites have noted the heart-shape on Pluto's surface, as if the celestial body loves us/is happy to see us.

We love you, too, Pluto!

But this photo is just the beginning. Geophysicist and NASA imaging team leader Jeff Moore promises that the next time we see this side of Pluto, a “portion of this region will be imaged at about 500 times better resolution than we see today.”

"It will be incredible."

New Horizons will pass within 6,200 miles of Pluto on July 16th.

Read more: In NASA's Lens, Mercury Comes Into Focus

Banner image credit: flickr @ flyingsinger

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