Pluto really is a planet (probably): The meaning of the first close-up photos

Alan Stern is excited. The planetary scientist has been working on sending a probe to Pluto since 1989. During that time, he’s seen his planet downgraded to “dwarf planet” status (in 2006) … but now he’s optimistic that Pluto will be reinstated with full planetary honors. Why? Because just-released close-up pictures from the New Horizons probe say to him beyond doubt that Pluto is a planet — and a super complex one at that. “It may be among the most complicated planets in the solar system,” says Stern, who grabbed a few minutes on the phone on Monday to share his delirious excitement at the new images. “Its geology and the distribution of snows on its surface are telling us about a very complex history.” Enjoy some of the close-up images of Pluto that are causing the astronomical excitement.

What do these photos show or teach us about Pluto? 

That it may be among the most complicated planets in the…

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