Science & Technology

This is What Pluto Looks Like from 766,000 Miles Away

We're about to get much, much closer.


NASA posted a new photo of the planet Pluto this morning. The photo was taken by the New Horizons deep space probe from 766,000 miles away, but even still, it's bigger, closer, and more colorful than any photo of the planet we've ever seen before. 

In a Tweet, NASA calls the photo a "love note back to Earth," referencing the giant heart-shaped mark on the planet's underside. 

NASA / Twitter

The photos are about to get better. Much better.

This morning, New Horizons is flying by Pluto and will come within about 8,000 miles of the planet, providing us with the best view of Pluto we've ever had. 

Data from the flyby won't start coming back until a little after 9 p.m. tonight, however, in part because the probe will be spending all of its processing power collecting data, and in part because it takes more than 4 hours to send a signal back to Earth. 

In the meantime, you can follow along with NASA's video simulation of New Horizons' activities this morning via their Eyes On the Solar System. Or watch this short video via NASA's app and Wired, which shows, in sped-up form, what the central eight hours of the mission will look like.