We won’t get the real download of images from New Horizons‘s Pluto flyby for a little while now, but some of the preliminary pictures sent back by the Johns Hopkins-controlled spacecraft are already revealing some surprises.The image of Pluto above, which the spacecraft beamed back earlier this week, appears to show a heart-shaped white area. According to the Hopkins Hub, that’s most likely a large patch of fresh frost stretching 1,200 miles across. The dark band to the left of the heart has already been nicknamed “the whale.” The images were taken when the spacecraft was a mere 5 million miles (!) from the dwarf planet.
APL expects another photo on Saturday; the clearest images will come on July 14, when New Horizons will make its closest approach to Pluto. According to the Hub, it will be able to return images akin to those taken of the Earth from space. Keep track of New Horizons‘s progress here.
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