Just 15 minutes after its closest approach to Pluto on 14 July 2015, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft looked back towards the Sun and captured this amazing view of Pluto (Picture of the month, CERN Courier September 2015 p17). This near-sunset image offers a contrasting view between majestic mountains and frozen plains. The smooth expanse of the informally named Sputnik Planum (right) is flanked to the west (left) by rugged, icy mountains up to 3500 metres high, including the informally named Norgay Montes in the foreground and Hillary Montes on the skyline. The backlighting highlights more than a dozen layers of haze in Pluto’s tenuous atmosphere, extending up to at least 100 km above the surface. Although the scene is only 380 km across, it displays a complex Earth-like view that scientists could not even dream to find on this remote dwarf planet.


• pluto.jhuapl.edu/News-Center/News-Article.php?page=20150917