Here it comes! massive downlink of Pluto data starts with spectacular new images

Perspective view of Pluto, composed of the latest high-resolution images. The entire expanse of terrain seen in the image is 1,800 kilometres (1,100 miles) across. Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
Perspective view of Pluto, composed of the latest high-resolution images. The entire expanse of terrain seen in the image is 1,800 kilometres (1,100 miles) across. Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

After a lull of several weeks, the downlinking of new data from the New Horizons spacecraft has begun, including stunning new images of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, as well as a treasure trove of other scientific data. There is so much to come that it will take about one year to downlink everything from the spacecraft and send back to Earth. Those first amazing images of Pluto and its moons were only the beginning.

Read MoreHere it comes! massive downlink of Pluto data starts with spectacular new images

Onward!: NASA selects next destination for New Horizons in Kuiper Belt

Artist’s conception of New Horizons at 2014 MU69. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Alex Parker
Artist’s conception of New Horizons at 2014 MU69. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Alex Parker

It has been nearly a month and a half since the historic flyby of Pluto by the New Horizons spacecraft, and now the mission team has selected its next target for exploration – a small Kuiper Belt object (KBO) known as 2014 MU69, which orbits the Sun about a billion miles further than Pluto. This will be the first time such a remote object in the Kuiper belt has been visited by a spacecraft from Earth.

Read MoreOnward!: NASA selects next destination for New Horizons in Kuiper Belt

Image Gallery: Pluto mountains and plains mosaic in colour

Image Credit: NASA/JHU-APL/SwRI/Thomas Appéré
The icy mountains and plains in the “heart” of Pluto. Click for larger version. Image Credit: NASA/JHU-APL/SwRI/Thomas Appéré

Another beautiful mosaic image of the icy mountains and plains in the southern “heart” region of Pluto, this time in colour with image processing by Thomas Appéré. The mountains on the left have been named Norgay Montes and the plains are now known as Sputnik Planum. Plus more Pluto information and images at the next press briefing tomorrow!

Read MoreImage Gallery: Pluto mountains and plains mosaic in colour

Image Gallery: another mountain range on Pluto and new mosaic

Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

Another amazing image of Pluto’s surface has been released, showing a second mountain range similar to the one previously photographed by New Horizons. The peaks in this range are estimated to be from 1 to 1.5 kilometres (0.5 mile to 1 mile tall), similar to the Appalachian Mountains in the U.S., and like the others, composed of solid water ice.

Read MoreImage Gallery: another mountain range on Pluto and new mosaic

Image Gallery: Pluto flyby mosaic in colour

Image Credit: NASA/JHU-APL/SwRI/Thomas Appéré
Mosaic image on the right is from the area inside the white box on the left global image. Image Credit: NASA/JHU-APL/SwRI/Thomas Appéré

A great new colour mosaic of the first Pluto flyby images released so far is now available from Thomas Appéré. The images show the Sputnik Planum plains and Norway Montes mountains in the southern part of the large “heart” feature. More images to come soon!

Read MoreImage Gallery: Pluto flyby mosaic in colour