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NASA has just released the highest resolution photographs of the surface of Pluto from the New Horizons flyby (see video above). The images were taken about 10,000 miles (17,000 kilometers) above the surface of Pluto, just 15 minutes before the spacecraft’s closest approach.
These are also the highest quality images that the spacecraft will ever send back, because they are lossless, or uncompressed. In contrast, the images that were sent back to Earth this summer were compressed in order to transfer more files faster. In a sense, they acted as preview images intended to show what was still to come when New Horizons had the time to transmit the full data set. (The spacecraft began a year-long process of downloading the remaining data this past September.)
For more information, check out this press release from NASA