Nasa has managed to capture the most high definition images of Pluto and its satellite Charon ever taken. Yes, those smudges of white up there.
The pictures were taken by the New Horizons spacecraft which left Earth in 2006 and is currently hurtling towards the dwarf planet at a speed of approximately 36,000mph.
Even though the latest images were made from more than 30 million miles away, they show an increasingly complex surface with clear evidence of discrete equatorial bright and dark regions - some that may also have variations in brightness.
We can also see that every face of Pluto is different and that Pluto's northern hemisphere displays substantial dark terrains, though both Pluto's darkest and its brightest known terrain units are just south of, or on, its equator.
- Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator
After using an image-processing technique called "deconvolution" to polish the raw photos, the team were able to observe the "increasingly complex and nuanced surface" of Pluto and its moon. As shown here in this gif:
Newer, clearer images of Pluto will continue to be taken by New Horizon's Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (Lorri) as it gets closer to the edge of our solar system.
Image and gif via Nasa/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute