Pluto has long been a mystery, a dot at our solar system’s margins. The best images, even with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, were fuzzy and pixelated. In July 2015, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew past Pluto and captured the sharpest views of the dwarf planet to date. One of the most striking areas, informally named "Sputnik Planum," is a sweeping, frozen plain the size of Texas and ringed by mountains of ice. Its smooth deposits are unmarred by impact craters, a stark contrast to the rest of Pluto’s battered surface. As a result, scientists believe the region formed recently, within the last few hundred million years. This contradicts past depictions of Pluto as an unchanging world. By analyzing images taken during the flyby, scientists hope to unravel more of the dwarf planet’s history. Watch the video for an up-close look at Pluto.
Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Video courtesy of NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/S. Robbins