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Breathtaking close-up images show Pluto's icy 'heart'

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Stunning close-up images of Nasa's historic mission to Pluto show a previously unknown area of frozen cliffs that appear in the shape of a heart on the planet. 

Nasa's New Horizons spacecraft transmitted images from its long-awaited flyby this week.

The icy 'heart' has been named Tombaugh Regio after Clyde Tombaugh, the late astronomer who discovered Pluto 85 years ago.

Some of Tombaugh's ashes are on board New Horizons, which travelled 3 billion miles over 9 years to reach Pluto.

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A close-up of the heart-shaped icy cliffs on Pluto

What you need to know about Nasa's Pluto mission:

  • Nasa's New Horizons spacecraft took nine years to reach Pluto for its historic flyby
  • It travelled 3 billion miles
  • The planet's 'heart' are icy mountains reaching up to 11,000 feet - as high as the Rockies
  • The mountainous region appears to be less than 100 million years old - Pluto itself is 4.5 billion years old
  • The planet is relatively free of craters - suggesting it has an internal heat source
  • It's bigger than thought - around 1,470 miles across
  • It took 4.5 hours for signals from New Horizons to travel at the speed of light back to Earth and back again
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Pluto

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Pluto and its moon Charon

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How Pluto and Charon would appear if placed above Earth 's surface

Images: Rex Features/Nasa

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