The never-before-seen surface of the dwarf planet Pluto is resolved in these NASA Hubble Space Telescope pictures. Discovered in 1930, Pluto has always appeared as nothing more than a dot of light in even the largest Earth-based telescopes because Pluto's disk is much smaller than can be resolved from beneath the Earth's turbulent atmosphere.

 

Opposite hemispheres of Pluto are seen in these two views. Some of the variations across Pluto's surface may be caused by topographic features such as basins, or fresh impact craters. However, most of the surface features, including the prominent northern polar cap, are likely produced by the distribution of frosts that migrate across Pluto's surface with its orbital and seasonal cycles and chemical byproducts deposited out of Pluto's nitrogen-methane atmosphere.

 

Image Credit: NASA and ESA

The Surface of Pluto
Pluto