BANGALORE: NASA’s New Horizon spacecraft has captured stunning coloured images of Pluto as it gets ready for a close flyby of the mysterious planet system.
NASA scientists told The LA Times that each of the spots is about 300 miles in diameter with a surface area similar in size to the state of Mississippi. One side of the dwarf planet has a series of evenly spaced spots along the equator.
“It’s a real puzzle-we don’t know what the spots are, and we can’t wait to find out”, said New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute.
Styx, famous in the 70s and 80s with hits like Come Sail Away, shares its name with the faintest of Pluto’s moons discovered in 2012. It took more than nine years for the spacecraft to cover 3 billion miles of space between the Earth and Pluto.
The scientists said that now, New Horizons is less than 9.5 miles from the Pluto system. But New Horizons spacecraft is nearly to reach its final destination.
To produce these aimges, New Horizons team members blended black-and-white images of Pluto and Charon from the spacecraft’s Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) with lower-resolution color data from the Ralph instrument.
New colour photos of Pluto released by NASA show the “dwarf planet” as never seen before, revealing a series of mysterious dark spots on the planet’s surface. This color difference is also a mystery that researchers are trying to solve.