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Pluto Bares All in Steamy New Close-Up Shots

It doesn’t get any better than this, folks.
December 5, 2015, 7:00pm

Well, it's finally happened—NASA has outdone itself. We've already seen a day in the life of Pluto, the dwarf planet's psychedelic portrait, and dozens of other stunning photos sent back to Earth as NASA's New Horizons craft approached the planet that is not a planet in July, but the Agency's most recent photo dump is the granddaddy of them all.

In short, the NASA photos released on Friday are the best close ups of Pluto we'll ever get unless we go back.

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"These new images give us a breathtaking, super-high resolution window into Pluto's geology," said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern in a statement. "Nothing of this quality was available for Venus or Mars until decades after their first flybys; yet at Pluto we're there already—down among the craters, mountains and ice fields—less than five months after flyby! The science we can do with these images is simply unbelievable."

Over the next few days, mission scientists from NASA are expecting to receive more images from New Horizon's closest pass over Pluto on July 14, all of which were taken from a range of just 10,000 miles. Waiting for these photos as they are sent across a gulf of over 3 billion miles has been an exercise in patience for the New Horizons team, which has to wait upwards of 4 and a half hours to receive single photo.

But being the awesome folks they are, NASA compiled all these hardwon photos into a video to show which region of Pluto each image is from, or you can view each photo individually below the video:

This photo features the al-Idrisi mountains rubbing up against the Sputnik Planum, an icy plane in the west of Pluto's heart-shaped Tombaugh Regio.

Image: NASA/JHUAPL/SwR.

Here you can see a number of impact craters on Pluto's frozen planes in the Burney Basin. The dark crater in the center is believed to be younger than the other craters, as evidenced by the fact that the dark material ejected upon impact has not yet been erased.

Image: NASA/JHUAPL/SwR.

Welcome to Pluto's badlands in the northwest portion of the Sputnik Planum. Running from the mid left to the upper right of the image is a cliff that is 1.2 miles high and is part of a canyon system that runs across Pluto's northern hemisphere for hundreds of miles. According to New Horizons members, the mountains in the middle of the photo are most likely made from water ice.

Image: NASA/JHUAPL/SwR.