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