New 'Dragon-Scale' Pluto Images From New Horizons Telescope Stun Astronomers

25/09/2015 8:46 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Never-before-seen images of Pluto's surface in full-colour and high-resolution have been released by NASA for the first time.

The images reveal an alien landscape full of rippled, textured mountains that has stunned astronomers working on the project.

NASA’s New Horizons craft captured the images back in July, but this is the first time they’ve been downlinked in full resolution.

pluto dragon

The image also shows the divide between night and day on Pluto (NASA)

“It’s a unique and perplexing landscape stretching over hundreds of miles,” said New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging (GGI) team deputy lead, William McKinnon.

“It looks more like tree bark or dragon scales than geology. This’ll really take time to figure out; maybe it’s some combination of internal tectonic forces and ice sublimation driven by Pluto’s faint sunlight.”

pluto ice

Ice cliffs and lakes on Pluto (NASA)

The image above shows what NASA says is a glacial ice lake and sheer-cliffed ice mountains in incredible detail.

And if you’re one for looking at the bigger picture, those amazing pictures of Pluto’s "big heart" from July have been released in greater depth and detail than ever before.

pluto colour

Pluto's heart in new detail (NASA)

“Pluto’s surface colors were enhanced in this view to reveal subtle details in a rainbow of pale blues, yellows, oranges, and deep reds,” said another GGI team deputy lead, John Spencer.

“Many landforms have their own distinct colours, telling a wonderfully complex geological and climatological story that we have only just begun to decode," he said.

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