Check out Pluto the pop-art star of the week in this recently NASA image. If not for the credits, we might have well thought it is an artistic interpretation of the planet’s most intricate features.
Of course, it is New Horizons that managed to bring out the most colorful and spectacular image of Pluto we have yet to see. It is a false color image. Nonetheless, it holds great scientific value as the technique dubbed principal component analysis renders the true variations in color among the different surface features of Pluto.
New Horizons captured the image on July 14th. However, it was only released for the public following the American Astronomical Society meeting on November 9th, where it was presented in premiere.
According to the NASA website, the image has been captured with New Horizons’ Ralph/MVIC color camera. The distance is 22,000 miles.
Since the historic flyby of New Horizons, few details were known about Pluto. Ever since, we have become familiar to most of the features on the planet’s surface, its chemical composition and Pluto’s atmosphere. In an effort to bring science closer to us, NASA has translated complex scientific language in fascinating details on one of the most interesting missions conducted.
Following a short pause, new data collections are still beamed back from New Horizons. Thus, a whole new array of information on the once frozen world will be made available to the public.
The hues in this image are relevant for distinguishing between different Pluto surface features. So while you check out Pluto the pop-art star of the week, remember the different regions named just a couple of months ago.
To the north, Pioneer Terra looms large with its craters marking the region. The canyons as well as plains of the planet are also visibly marked. In the by now notorious heart-shaped region titled Tombaugh Regio, the icy Sputnik Planum catches the eye. In the east, the Tartarus Dorsa reveals the snakeskin pattern of the surface.
As New Horizons is venturing further into the Kuiper Belt, more data and astonishing images on other objects are bound to become fascinating topics soon. Nonetheless, we can safely assume that we’re not done with Pluto yet.
Photo Credits: nasa.gov