Pluto’s diverse and increasingly mysterious geology continues to astound, as new photos returned to Earth reveal a series of “halo” craters within the planet’s Vega Terra region. These craters were found far west of the hemisphere NASA’s New Horizons peered during its close approach last summer.
The layout of pictures you see above pretty much spells it out. The black and white image best displays these “haloed” craters, the largest of which is estimated to be around 30 miles across. What mysteries lie at the bottom of these craters? Scientists aren’t quite sure, nor do they know when these craters got there.
“Composition data from New Horizon’s Ralph/Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA) indicate a connection between the bright halos and distribution of methane ice, shown in false color as purple,” NASA explained. “The floors and terrain between craters show signs of water ice, colored in blue.”
Below are some of the other reports from NASA following last summer’s unprecedented flyby.
NASA on Wednesday released the first high resolution close-up image of Pluto, revealing a small region of massive icy mountains. It is, in a word, stunning. And it’s getting a lot of interesting reactions from the scientific community, not only about Pluto itself, but how we think about icy worlds in our solar system. Now that NASA’s […]
NASA’s New Horizons provided some phenomenal photos of Pluto last month, and there’s still plenty more information to come from the industrious spacecraft. But until that information is beamed back over the next several months, why not ride shotgun and re-live the historic flyby? Using the images taken by New Horizons and some enviable imaging […]
As NASA’s New Horizons continues to approach Pluto for the closest ever flyby on July 14, scientists have finally cleared up a long-standing debate about the dwarf planet. Thanks to fresh data collected by the enterprising spacecraft, scientists have found that Pluto is 1,473 miles in diameter, which is actually larger than most prior estimates. Although […]
NASA on Thursday revealed another amazing Pluto factoid: the planet appears to have floating hills, or icebergs. The agency said the icebergs are floating in a vast sea of frozen nitrogen at Sputnik Planum, which rests within the planet’s “heart.” “The hills are likely fragments of the rugged uplands that have broken away and are […]
NASA has released a stunning new image of Pluto’s crescent, further revealing the beauty of the beast we saw in the panorama in September. What the image lacks in finer details more than makes up for in splendor, presenting a terrific look at the lonely planet as the sun gently kisses its icy surface. Go home, New […]
Just 15 minutes after its closest approach to Pluto in July, NASA’s New Horizons captured what is now the most beautiful image of the dwarf planet. And that’s saying a lot, because the courageous spacecraft has also sent back some truly spectacular pictures—my favorite is this silhouette after New Horizons successfully made its historic flyby. […]