By Ben Brumfield, CNN, Sept. 11, 2015 – A range of majestic mountains meets with endless plains. On Pluto, billions of miles from the sun’s reach, they are likely both made of ice.
And this week, we are seeing close-ups of them with unprecedented clarity. Finally, two months after the New Horizons spacecraft flew by the dwarf planet at close range, new higher resolution images have arrived.
It has taken that long for NASA to download them. The transfer speed of data from the spacecraft at 2,000 bits per second makes an old dial-up modem with its 56,000 bits per second look like a speed demon.
It will take NASA a year to transfer all the photos and data. The dump began arriving over the Labor Day weekend. Some of the pictures that NASA released were not single snapshots but compilations synthesized from multiple photos.