The incredible image shows off the diverse geological and compositional features of Pluto.
NASA has released a stunning close-up of Pluto’s surface that tells us more about the diverse geological and compositional features of its North Pole.
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The image was taken at a range of around 21,000 miles from Pluto when NASA's New Horizon spacecraft was about to make the epic flyby of the dwarf planet on July 14, 2015 and it provides a unique closer look at the region which is called Lowell Regio. The colors of the image are also enhanced to highlight the topographical features of its surface.
This particular images shows off frozen canyons, pits and valley across Pluto’s North Pole. The biggest of the canyons, in yellow, is about 45 miles wide and run vertically across the region. Several subsidiary canyons (in green) are running parallel to the big canyon and they are about 6 miles wide. The walls of these canyons are much older than the canyons found on the rest of Pluto’s surface and represent ancient properties and structures of Pluto’s surface.
A valley, marked in blue, covers almost the entire floor of the canyon. Another valley (pink) can be seen in the east of the North Pole.
At the right bottom of image, large and irregular-shaped pits (red) can be observed. These are like the scars on Pluto’s surface and roughly 45 miles wide and 2.5 miles deep. These pits are possibly created when ice melted from the below and caused the surface to collapse.
Overall, the image is divided into low and high latitudes terrain. High elevations are shown in distinctive yellow while low latitude terrain is represented through bluish gray color. When New Horizon examined the region with its infrared instruments, it found that the surface is abundant with methane ice while it contains relatively less nitrogen ice.
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“One possibility is that the yellow terrains may correspond to older methane deposits that have been more processed by solar radiation than the bluer terrain.” Will Grundy from Lowell Observatory said.