A World Of Exotic Ice Landscapes Emerges in Newest Enhanced Color Image Of Pluto

New Horizons scientists use enhanced color images to detect differences in the composition and texture of Pluto’s surface. When close-up images are combined with color data from the Ralph instrument, it paints a new and surprising portrait of the dwarf planet. The image was taken when the spacecraft was 450,000 kilometers (280,000 miles) away, show features as small as 2.2 kilometers (1.4 miles). Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

NASA's New Horizons team released an enhanced color image of Pluto today that highlights the many different types of terrains on the dwarf planet. Resembling an artist's pastel painting, New Horizons has transformed what was a scribble a few weeks ago, into a masterpiece.

The science team combined high resolution black-and-white images from the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) with color data from the Ralph instrument to give us a view of the compositional and textural variation across the face of Pluto.

The enhanced color image suggests that Sputnik Planum - the “heart of the heart" - might be a source region of ices. According to the statement, "the two bluish-white 'lobes' that extend to the southwest and northeast of the 'heart' may represent exotic ices being transported away from Sputnik Planum."

This latest image was released just a few hours before a scheduled Pluto briefing at 2 p.m. EDT today. The New Horizons science team will be releasing new images and science findings. The briefing will be carried live on NASA TV. We will keep you updated.

To access the full features of Pluto Safari please download the FREE app for iOS from the Apple App Store or Pluto Safari: New Horizons for Android from Google Play.

Alternatively, if you have SkySafari or Pluto Safari installed you could download the simulation settings file here.