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A New Look at Pluto: Hey There Mister Blue, We’re So Pleased to Be With You…

Pluto's atmosphere shines blue in this color image from New Horizons (NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

Pluto’s thin atmosphere shines blue in this color image from New Horizons (NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

Not unlike what’s found here on Earth, the faraway dwarf planet* Pluto has a sky tinted blue with scattered sunlight, as seen in the latest image from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft!

The picture above was created from data captured by New Horizons’ Ralph/Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) as the spacecraft was departing Pluto after its close pass on July 14. Pluto is seen in silhouette blocking the light of our distant Sun as particles in its backlit multi-layered haze create a blue glow via Rayleigh scattering — the same process that makes Earth’s sky look blue. It’s just another surprising feature of Pluto revealed by the New Horizons mission.

Acquired in red, blue, and infrared, the final image has been adjusted to represent what our eyes would see.

“Who would have expected a blue sky in the Kuiper Belt? It’s gorgeous.”
— Dr. Alan Stern, principal investigator for New Horizons

The reason for Pluto’s blue sky? Tiny particles called tholins… read more on my Discovery News article here.

UPDATE: See a high-resolution version of the above image here.

Mr. Blue Sky, please tell us why,
You had to hide away for so long, so long,
where did we go wrong?

*Still not good enough to be called a planet? Come on now, IAU…

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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 October 9, 2015, in Pluto and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. La nostra conoscenza riguardo l’Universo sta crescendo a ritmo esponenziale. Quando leggo queste notizie il mio orgoglio nell’essere umano cresce allo stesso modo.

    La principale verità della Scienza è che “più scopriamo, più scopriamo”: tutto questo è meraviglioso.

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  2. Stunning new and stunning Pluto. Thanks for the video of the group ELO. It reminds me my former years. Memories, memories…
    Jeff Barani from Vence (France)

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  3. Pluto is the undiscovered new world of our generation. Hopefully by the next generation Mankind is able to reach it.

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