The image shows a spectacular cluster of bright haloes spreading across Pluto's Vega Terra region.
NASA’s New Horizon spacecraft continues to explore the enigmatic icy world of Pluto.
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The latest spectacular images released by NASA features Pluto’s Vega Terra region and gives us a striking glimpse of a cluster of bright haloes scattered across its dark landscape.
Vega Terra region covers the far Western hemisphere of Pluto and is known for its sublime features. The latest image was taken by New Horizons on July 14 last year when the spacecraft made its closest approach to Pluto. The image consists of two separate images. The upper image is in black and white color where dozens of haloed craters can been seen embedded in the surface. The largest crater is at bottom right of the image and stretches 30 miles across the surface. The walls and rims of all the craters are extremely bright which are setting them apart from the rest of the terrain and dark surface.
In the lower image, the colors are enhanced to reflect difference in the composition and texture of the surface. The image is developed using composition data from New Horizons’ Ralph/Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA). The instrument scanned the surface of Pluto with a resolution of 1.7 miles per pixel and shows the distribution of methane ice on the rim and surrounding area of craters in purple color while the floor and terrain between craters colored in blue shows the evidence of water ice.
“Exactly, why the bright methane ice settles on these crater rims and walls is a mystery; also puzzling is why the same effect doesn’t occur broadly across Pluto.” NASA blog says.
The overall image is created by combining two images obtained by New Horizon’s Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) at ranges of 2,910 miles and 106,700 miles.
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New Horizon is sending back spectacular images of Pluto’s geological features from its summer flyby last year. In March, NASA gave us a visual treat when it released the image of what looks like a giant ‘bite mark’ on the region of Vega Terra.