In the 85 years since it's discovery Pluto has been classified as a planet and relegated to dwarf planet status. But despite the attention paid attention to the small, distant ball of ice and rock, we've never gotten a clear look at the victim to Neil deGrasse Tyson's bullying.
Shortly before New Horizons flyby, which will take the space probe offline until tonight, it sent the "sneak peek" image above. Two days ago the best picture we had of Pluto looked like this:
Three billion miles from Earth and just two and a half million miles from Pluto, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has taken its best image of four dark spots that continue to captivate. At 7:49 AM EDT on Tuesday, July 14 New Horizons will zip past Pluto at 30,800 miles per hour (49,600 kilometers per hour), with a suite of seven science instruments busily gathering data. The mission will complete the initial reconnaissance of the solar system with the first-ever look at the icy dwarf planet. Credit: NASA #nasa #space #pluto #plutoflyby #nasabeyond #science
A photo posted by NASA (@nasa) on Jul 11, 2015 at 3:01pm PDT
And a week ago we were stuck with this potato quality:
Only 8 days until our New Horizons spacecraft flies by Pluto! And new high-resolution views of Pluto were just released! One image includes the four mysterious dark spots on Pluto that have captured the imagination of the world. The Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) obtained the images prior to the July 4 anomaly that sent New Horizons into safe mode. This color version of the July 3 LORRI image was created by adding color data from the Ralph instrument gathered earlier in the mission. All images: http://www.nasa.gov/newhorizons Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI #nasa #pluto #plutoflyby #newhorizons #space #nasabeyond #science
A photo posted by NASA (@nasa) on Jul 6, 2015 at 1:35pm PDT
Should the mission go according to plan, we'll have even better images tonight. Until we find out if New Horizons survived, marvel at the newest image and the inevitable Twitter jokes.
BREAKING NEWS: Exclusive look at what NASA discovered when they finally reached Pluto. pic.twitter.com/dSowR2kudn— Mike Hinson (@HinsonMike) July 14, 2015