New Horizons' Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) obtained these three images of Pluto between July 1-3 ,2015, as the spacecraft closed in on its July 14 encounter with the dwarf planet and its moons. The left image shows, on the right side of the disk, a large bright area on the hemisphere opposite Charon; this is the side of Pluto that will be seen in close-up by New Horizons on July 14. The three images together show the full extent of a continuous swath of dark terrain that wraps around Pluto's equatorial region between longitudes 40° and 160°. The western end of the swath, west of longitude 40°, breaks up into a series of striking dark regularly-spaced spots on the anti-Charon hemisphere (right image) that were first noted in New Horizons images taken on Pluto's previous rotation. Intriguing details are beginning to emerge in the bright material north of the dark region, in particular a series of bright and dark patches that are conspicuous just below the center of the disk in the right-hand image. In all three black-and-white views, the apparent jagged bottom edge of Pluto is the result of image processing.
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, designed, built, and operates the New Horizons spacecraft, and manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. The Southwest Research Institute, based in San Antonio, leads the science team, payload operations and encounter science planning. New Horizons is part of the New Frontiers Program managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
|Target Type||Dwarf Planet||Satellite|
|Instrument Host||New Horizons|
|Host Type||Flyby Spacecraft|
|Instrument||Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI)|
|Extra Keywords||Grayscale, Visual|
|Date in Caption|
|Image Credit||NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute|