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The crowning achievement of the Pluto mission, in one photo

pluto comparison new

Left: Pluto as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1993. (Dr. R. Albrecht, ESA/ESO Space Telescope European Coordinating Facility; NASA). Right: Pluto as seen by New Horizons on July 13. (NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI)

The image above, more than anything else, captures the huge impact of the New Horizons mission on our understanding of Pluto.

On the left is the best image we had of Pluto just a few decades ago: It was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1993. On the right is the last photo taken by New Horizons before the flyby. And what's really amazing is that tomorrow, we'll receive Pluto photos that are 10 times sharper than that last image — and far more detailed than any Pluto photo ever taken before.

This juxtaposition demonstrates the core achievement of this amazing mission. Pluto used to be a point of light, billions of miles away in space. Now it's a world we're about to explore.