Over the past few weeks, we've watched Pluto transform from a fuzzy grey ball into a reddish-pink world with ice plains, mountains ranges, and hints of geologic activity. But science isn't the only great thing about the recent Pluto discoveries: The new artwork is pretty stellar, too.
What would it be like to stand on Sputnik Planum, those frozen, textured plains of methane and nitrogen that both fascinate and bewilder us, and stare across the horizon at the towering, icy Norgay Montes? Or to look up from the bottom of Charon's great equatorial chasm — a rift that puts the Grand Canyon to shame? Would a sky with a faraway Sun, barely brighter than the surrounding stars, feel lonely and alien? Would the glow of five companion moons make up for it?
These are the types of questions that space artist Ron Miller ponders. As the Pluto data streamed in last week, Miller — who designed the Pluto stamp that's now flying on New Horizons — was busy creating scientifically current renderings of our favourite dwarf planet and its moons. And they're absolutely stunning.
I don't know about you, but I'm this close to packing my ice axe, crampons and oxygen mask, and catching the next flight out.
Exploring a channel in Sputnik Planum
An ice-filled crater basin on Pluto
On the ice plains of Pluto's heart
Gazing into Charon's equatorial chasm
Climbing Pluto's icy cliffs
Dawn in the Plutonian Alps
Pluto from a chasm on Charon
Images courtesy of Ron Miller and reproduced with permission. You can check out more of Miller's work over at Black Cat Studios.