Pluto and Charon Shine In Psychedelic Color
The image reveals that the bright heart-shaped region of Pluto includes areas that differ in color characteristics. The western lobe, shaped like an ice-cream cone, appears peach color in this image. A mottled area on the right (east) appears bluish. Even within Pluto's northern polar cap, in the upper part of the image, various shades of yellow-orange indicate subtle compositional differences.
The surface of Charon is viewed using the same exaggerated color. The red on the dark northern polar cap of Charon is attributed to hydrocarbon materials including a class of chemical compounds called tholins. The mottled colors at lower latitudes point to the diversity of terrains on Charon.
This image was taken at 3:38 a.m. EDT on July 13, one day before New Horizons’ closest approach to Pluto.
New Horizons will 'phone' home tonight at 9:02 PM EDT to let us know if it survived the flyby of the Pluto system. You can watch the celebrations live on NASA TV starting at 8:00 PM EDT.
For the original Pluto press release, click here.