Nasa’s New Horizons spacecraft has been sending stunning images of Pluto now and then after it was positioned on Pluto’s orbital six month a ago. Last week, NASA released an amazing enhanced color mosaic of Pluto’s surface that reveals some identity of the mysterious land.
The image revealed is a combination of images taken by the spacecraft’s Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) during its closest approach to Pluto in July. While capturing the shots, the New Horizon was about 10,000 miles away from the Pluto, managed to capture images with 250-280 feet per pixel.
The black and white version was released earlier and to create a color version, NASA used color data gathered from the Ralph/Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera to map hues onto the image.
It’s about 80km stretch, which is the highest resolution image taken by the probe, trending from the edge of “badlands” Northwest of the Sputnik Planum (informally) onto the icy plains revealing the mountains and glacial terrains that make up the peculiar “heart” on the tiny Pluto.
Also, NASA released the high resolution of the heart shaped terrains on Pluto informally named Tombaugh Regio. The pitted area likely formed from the fracturing and evaporation of ice. The scientists hope to study the structure of the surface area, how the ice flows through the plains as well as how nitrogen and other materials link between the atmosphere and Pluto’s surface.
“Pluto is showing us a diversity of landforms and complexity of processes that rival anything we have seen in the solar system,” said New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Boulder, Colorado.
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