Latest Pluto map in Google Earth

Earlier this month, we had a look at a map of Pluto that NASA produced and made available in KML format for viewing Google Earth.

That was before the New Horizons spacecraft had reached Pluto and the image was very blurry. Now the flyby is complete and we are starting to see higher resolution images, including the first high resolution map. It still only includes about half of the surface area and is a monochrome image, but it is considerably higher resolution than the previous version.

The image provided turned out to be too large for Google Earth to display properly, so we had to halve the resolution. Even so, there is a lot of detail in the map and some interesting features to be seen.

To view it for yourself in Google Earth download this KML file. It is best viewed with all layers turned off, and turn off the Earth atmosphere for a more realistic look by de-selecting “View->Atmosphere”.

To see some other planets we have looked at with Google Earth see these posts.

About Timothy Whitehead

Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.


  1. tsomeone1 says:

    Opening the KML File requires a licence key. Why?

    • Timothy Whitehead says:

      It shouldn’t. The most likely cause is that it is opening in Google Earth Pro and you normally use Google Earth. To sign into Google Earth Pro use any email address and key: GEPFREE

  2. The map is rotated by 180 degrees in longitude from reality in the KML file. The “heart” should lie on the antimeridian (180 E); instead it is drawn on the prime meridian.

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