Pluto in False Color
Pluto is shown in false colors to help scientists differentiate between regions of different surface compositions and textures. The heart-shaped region on Pluto’s surface (seen in the photo) is unofficially named “Tombaugh Regio” in honor of the man who discovered the dwarf planet, Clyde Tombaugh. The heart of Tombaugh Regio is called “Sputnik Planum” as an homage to the first satellite to orbit the Earth – Sputnik. Within this heart of the heart, scientists have detected signs that the region contains different ices and may have even been geologically active in recent history.
In order to create this false-color global view of Pluto, four images from New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) were combined with color data from the Ralph instrument. The images, taken when the spacecraft was 280,000 miles (450,000 kilometers) away, show features as small as 1.4 miles (2.2 kilometers).
Pluto continues to amaze. This is just the tip of the iceberg; we have 16 months of data still to come.
Image & Source Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI