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NASA just released the best GIFs of Pluto so far

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Better images to come as New Horizons speeds toward the dwarf planet

The New Horizons spacecraft is still more than two months away from reaching Pluto, but it's now close enough to make out some details of the dwarf planet and one of its moons. NASA just held a mission briefing to update the public about the progress of the mission, during which the agency released a number of GIFs made from the newest images taken of Pluto.

In them, we see Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, dancing around each other in a delicate orbit. The GIFs show the orbit taking place over a period of six and a half days between April 12th and April 18th from a distance of more than 60 million miles away.

Pluto GIF

Pluto gif

The images are nowhere near the resolution that NASA expects we'll see when the spacecraft arrives this summer, but they're already a higher resolution than the images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. And we're already learning from them, too: NASA scientists think that bright spots in Pluto's pole might be a snow cap, likely made from frozen molecular nitrogen ice.

"This is just an appetite whetter," said Alan Stern, the principal investigator on the New Horizons team. When the spacecraft reaches Pluto in July, he said the images will be "thousands of times better."

Not bad for a spacecraft powered by the same chip used in the original PlayStation.

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