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Close-up look at Pluto's moon Charon shows new detail

A new image of Pluto's moon Charon shows small craters, sinuous channel-like features and an unusual depression with a large peak in the center. NASA

A zoomed-in look at the surface of Pluto's large moon Charon, released Thursday by NASA, reveals more craters than were seen in a long-range view released earlier, along with twisting channel-like features and an intriguing depression with a towering peak in the center.

The new image was taken about 90 minutes before the New Horizons spacecraft flew past Pluto on Tuesday and shows a 240-mile-long strip across the moon's surface. Shot at a distance of about 49,000 miles, it is the closest look yet at the Texas-size moon as project scientists sift through data being transmitted back to Earth in the wake of the flyby.

During a news briefing Thursday when a full-frame view of Charon and a closeup of Pluto were released, scientists said they were surprised by the overall paucity of impact craters, saying both worlds appear to have undergone resurfacing of some sort in the geologically recent past.

But it's not yet known what sort of interior or exterior processes might have been at work.

NASA plans to reveal more images of Pluto and Charon during a news briefing Friday at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

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