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Amazing Nasa images reveal Pluto's landscape

Pluto hazesNASA/JPL-JHU/SWRI
Pluto has a beautiful blue-tinged atmosphere

Nasa has released new images of Pluto and its largest moon Charon.

The latest images have revealed more about the dwarf planet and its atmosphere.

They were taken by the New Horizon spacecraft when it flew past the Pluto system on 14 July.

DunesNASA
The images have captured Pluto's varied landscape - here a textured area surrounds two ice mountains

The scientific data sent back suggests that Pluto has one of the most varied landscapes in the Solar System.

The images captured mountains, dunes, cratered areas and ones that are smooth.

Sputnik PlanumNASA
The planet has smooth areas that don't have any craters

The head of the mission, Prof Alan Stern, told the BBC that what he has seen so far is "amazing" and has already transformed our thoughts of the far away world.

"It certainly rivals the Earth and Mars, perhaps even occupies the number one spot for complexity of all the planets in the Solar System."

"The Pluto system is much more complex than I had expected. Pluto itself displays (such a diverse) range of geological landforms that it is unprecedented in the Solar System," he explained.

Mountains on PlutoNASA
This mountainous area has patterns which have left scientists puzzled - they hope to work out how they were formed

Pluto lost its status as a planet in 2006 after the discovery of similar worlds in our outer solar system like the dwarf planet Eris.

But the New Horizons mission suggests that Pluto might be larger than Eris and should be called a planet.

Pluto HeartNASA
This area is known as the 'heart', scientists think it's made up of nitrogen ice. But they want to know why other areas on the planet are not like this one

So far, Nasa's New Horizons probe has sent back just a small amount of the data it collected.

It will send back higher quality images in the coming months, which will show new details of a world that is more beautiful than anyone had imagined.

Pluto and CharonNASA
The New Horizons spacecraft is due to send back more amazing images soon

There will also be new information about Pluto's moons.

We've only had a glimpse of its largest moon, Charon.

It's three times smaller than Pluto but theses pictures show canyons that are several kilometres deep.

CharonNASA
Pluto's largest moon Charon has canyons that are several kilometres deep

In just a few months, our knowledge of Pluto has already been transformed. And, according to Prof Coates, there is much more to come.

"The data from New Horizons is rewriting the text books about the outer Solar System. It is a real voyage of exploration to look at this mini solar system of Pluto and its moons."