Advertisements

How Did Pluto Get Its Spots?

Color image of Pluto and Charon from June 27, 2015 (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)

Color image of Pluto and Charon from June 27, 2015 (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)

As New Horizons continues to close the gap between itself and Pluto more details are being revealed in images of the planet and its (comparatively) giant moon. Some of the latest images are showing some particularly intriguing features just below Pluto’s equator: a row of somewhat evenly-spaced dark spots, each about 300 miles (480 km) wide.

The New Horizons team combined black-and-white images of Pluto and Charon from the spacecraft’s Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) with lower-resolution color data from the Ralph instrument to produce the image above.

This is the first time these dark spots have been observed and scientists aren’t sure what to make of them.

See an annotated version of the images here.

“It’s a real puzzle – we don’t know what the spots are, and we can’t wait to find out,” said New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, CO. “Also puzzling is the longstanding and dramatic difference in the colors and appearance of Pluto compared to its darker and grayer moon Charon.”

Cropped version of Pluto image (original orientation). NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute.

Cropped version of Pluto image (original orientation). NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute.

New Horizons will perform its closest pass of Pluto and Charon on July 14.

Source/read more here.

Images of Pluto obtained by New Horizons on July 1-3, 2015

NEW: Images of Pluto obtained by New Horizons on July 1-3, 2015. (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)

Advertisements

About Jason Major

Jason is a Rhode Island-based graphic designer, photographer, nature lover, space exploration fanatic, and coffee addict. In no particular order.

Posted on July 2, 2015, in Dwarf Planets, Pluto and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Charon’ face (color and craters…) looks like Eath’ moon’ from the distance…

    As far as I know, the reddish color is not rare in the Solar System…!

    Like

  2. “It’s not a moon … “
    Sorry – I couldn’t resist the urge. What I was really happy to read is that there is a mystery, and that people are already anxious to solve it. Maybe this might help net a little more money and priority into various space budgets? I hope so 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I predict that we’ll find that the spots are shadows of mountains. You heard it here first!

    Like

  4. Canniculae – canals! (a la Percival Lowell – and we see how his predictions held up)

    Like

  5. umh, morning, or.. I have some interest in your work and i was hoping you’d consider reading my blog and featuring it on yours… It’s abstract philosophy and pseudo-scientific concepts… please do consider.

    Like

  1. Pingback: Pluto Dark Spots | Newsalia

%d bloggers like this: