Now in super high-res color! NASA shows off enhanced zoom-in pics of Pluto

NASA continues to thrill space lovers with some of its sharpest photos of Pluto – now in super high-resolution color. The agency has released new close-up pictures, zooming in the planet’s landscape and its mosaic patterns.

The fresh pictures are portions of images that NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft snapped during its closest-ever flyby of Pluto on July 14. Thanks to a resolution of about 250-280 feet (77-85 meters) per pixel, features smaller than half a city block on Pluto’s surface are perfectly visible. NASA just slightly enhanced the pictures with color data of a lower resolution – about 2,066 feet, or 630 meters, per pixel.

In fact, the pictures are colorful versions of black-and-white images that NASA already showed last week.

“The images form a strip 50 miles (80 kilometers) wide, trending (top to bottom) from the edge of ‘badlands’ northwest of the informally named Sputnik Planum, across the al-Idrisi mountains, onto the shoreline of Pluto’s ‘heart feature, and just into its icy plains,” NASA explained in a press release.

The images combine pictures from the telescopic Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) and the Ralph/Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC).

The way it works, the LORRI takes photos every three seconds, while the MVIC scans the surface using a very short exposure times to avoid blurring details. NASA mixed images that LORRI took about 15 minutes before New Horizons’ closest approach to Pluto with photos that MVIC gathered 25 minutes prior to the LORRI’s pictures.

“The wide variety of cratered, mountainous and glacial terrains seen here gives scientists and the public alike a breathtaking, super-high-resolution color window into Pluto’s geology,” the agency said.

More images from the July expedition are still coming in, as the spacecraft transmits one to two kilobits of data per second once a week.