Pluto's badlands
Pluto's badlands This highest-resolution image from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft shows how erosion and faulting has sculpted this portion of Pluto’s icy crust into rugged badlands. The prominent 1.9-kilometer-high cliff at the top, running from left to upper right, is part of a great canyon system that stretches for hundreds of miles across Pluto’s northern hemisphere. At the bottom of this image, the terrain transforms dramatically into a fractured and finely broken up floor at the northwest margin of the giant ice plain informally called Sputnik Planum. The top of the image is to Pluto’s northwest. NASA / JHUAPL /SwRI

These images were made with the telescopic Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) aboard New Horizons, in a timespan of about a minute centered on 11:36 UT on July 14, 2015 – just about 15 minutes before New Horizons’ closest approach to Pluto – from a range of just 17,000 kilometers. They were obtained with an unusual observing mode; instead of working in the usual “point and shoot,” LORRI snapped pictures every three seconds while the Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC) aboard New Horizons was scanning the surface. This mode requires unusually short exposures to avoid blurring the images.

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