Pluto Surface
Pluto's surface, as seen by New Horizons, revealed icy mountains. NASA-JHUAPL-SwRI

You may have heard, but something incredible happened with Pluto on Tuesday. No, it's still a dwarf planet, but NASA's New Horizons made its flyby and successfully phoned home after the historic mission. The spacecraft sped by Pluto at 30,800 miles per hour and spent the short time around the dwarf planet snapping photos and collecting a whole lot of valuable science data. With our best look at Pluto yet, let's take a look back at some amazing before-and-after images of the eight planets in our solar system.

On Tuesday, New Horizons completed the initial reconnaissance of our solar system and delivered some incredible images of Pluto, Charon and even the small moon Hydra. Pluto has ice mountains and a heart-shaped area dubbed Tombaugh Regio after the discoverer of the dwarf planet. Prior to New Horizons, our best glimpse of Pluto was a blurry Hubble Space Telescope photo.

On July 15, 1965, Mariner 4 gave us the first close-up image of Mars. Over 50 years, orbiters have traveled past every planet and have redefined our understanding of these objects. The Pioneer missions gave us our first views of Saturn and Jupiter while Voyager 2 gave us unprecedented images of Neptune and Uranus. Mercury 10 was showing us what the two planets closest to the sun -- Mercury and Venus -- looked like. More recently, Cassini has been blowing minds with incredible images of Saturn.





The first photographs of Mars were taken by Mariner 4 in 1965. Now, with Curiosity on-planet sending us high definition panoramic video, we can't begin to compare the before and after photos.

This shows an area about 330 km across by 1200 km from limb to bottom of frame, centered at 37 N, 187 W. The area is near the boundary of Elysium Planitia to the west and Arcadia Planitia to the east. The hazy area barely visible above the limb on the left side of the image may be clouds. This portion of the feature has been enhanced to bring out more of the haze-like features. The resolution of this image is roughly 5 km and north is up. (Mariner 4, frame 01D.) NSSDC Photo Gallery





Last but not least, the dwarf planet, Pluto