New Horizons captures incredible backlit photo of Pluto's crescent
The latest photo relayed from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has landed and it is a stunner. Taken right after the probe hurtled past Pluto in July, the backlit image was snapped from a distance of 11,000 mi (18,000 km) and highlights the hazy layers in the dwarf planet's tenuous atmosphere.
Last month, NASA released a breath-taking set of images snapped by New Horizon's wide-angle Multi-spectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC). The series showed various geological features in impressive detail, including 1,353 m (11,000 ft) tall mountain ranges and the vast icy expanses of the plain known as Sputnik Planum.
The latest image, which comes courtesy of processing work by the New Horizons team, offers a more complete picture. Taken as New Horizon peered back at Pluto 15 minutes after its historic flyby with the sun providing dramatic backlighting. In it we see the smooth Sputnik Planum illuminated on the right hand side, with the mountain range known informally as Norgay Montes sitting above and what NASA believes to be glaciers appearing underneath.
New Horizons has continued on its path beyond Pluto toward the Kuiper Belt, though it continues to return data showing the dwarf planet and its surroundings in new light. Last week it sent back images of its smallest moon Kerberos, completing a collection of family portrait of Pluto's satellites.