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Behold the Hidden Colors of Pluto

Enhanced-color view of Pluto (NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

Enhanced-color view of Pluto (NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

This newly-released picture of Pluto isn’t quite what our eyes would perceive… but then our eyes aren’t high-tech scientific imaging sensors like the ones aboard New Horizons! An enhanced-color image made from data acquired by the spacecraft’s LORRI and Ralph cameras on July 13, 2015, this view of Pluto shows the many variations in surface compositions across the planet’s visible area. What the compositions are specifically and how they got to be in the places they’re in are questions still being worked on by scientists, so for now we can all just have fun speculating and enjoy the view!

From a NASA news release:

New Horizons scientists use enhanced color images to detect differences in the composition and texture of Pluto’s surface. When close-up images are combined with color data from the Ralph instrument, it paints a new and surprising portrait of the dwarf planet. The “heart of the heart,” Sputnik Planum, is suggestive of a source region of ices. The two bluish-white “lobes” that extend to the southwest and northeast of the “heart” may represent exotic ices being transported away from Sputnik Planum. 

Four images from New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) were combined with color data from the Ralph instrument to create this enhanced color global view. The images, taken when the spacecraft was 280,000 miles (450,000 kilometers) away, show features as small as 1.4 miles (2.2 kilometers).

For comparison, these are a more natural-color (i.e., how we would see it) views of Pluto and its moon Charon:

Visible-light image of Pluto from New Horizons (NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

Visible-light image of Pluto from New Horizons (NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

Near-natural color composite image of Pluto and Charon (NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

Near-natural color composite image of Pluto and Charon (NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

See more news from the New Horizons mission here.

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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 24, 2015, in Dwarf Planets, Pluto and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. so pleased that Pluto surpassed expectations, instead of being named for the God of the Underworld it was more like it was named for the ‘God of the Underdog.

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  2. Hey! I have created a new blog that features my interest of Outer Space and its secrets. Check it out! Also, love your blog!!!!

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  3. Great job with the post! Just posted also some information on Pluto’s New Horizons discoveries! Check it out! Cheers. https://thebeautyofspace.wordpress.com/

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