Astronomy Picture of the Day
December 20, 2015

A few of the many Features of Pluto (Part III)
A few of the many Features of Pluto (Part III)

Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute and Dr Paolo C. Fienga/LXTT/IPF for the additional process. and color.

Even this highly suggestive picture is just a crop obtained from an High-Resolution image-mosaic (see the APODs of the past two days) of the Dwarf-Planet Pluto. Today's image shows us, jointly with several - clearly frozen - Unnamed Impact Craters, a number of simple and complex (here and there, sometimes sinuous and certainly remarkable in size - at least most of them) Faults and Channels whose origin is still far from being understood and explained.

Furthermore, if you look at the picture carefully, you may notice that most of the Faults and Channels cut through the abovementioned Unnamed Impact Craters, and this fact obviously means that they (the Faults and Channels) are younger than them. So, what happened in a the (now remote) past of Pluto?...

The pictures used to create the Original image-mosaic were all taken by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) in a so-called "Ride-Along Mode", with the LEISA Spectrometer. Taken shortly before New Horizons' July 14th, 2015, closest approach to Pluto, details as small as roughly 500 yards (such as about 457,2 meters) can be seen.

The image (which is a crop obtained from an Original NASA - New Horizons Spacecraft's b/w and NON Map-Projected image-mosaic published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. 20286) has been additionally processed, extra-magnified in order to better see the details, contrast enhanced and sharpened, Gamma corrected and then colorized (according to an educated guess - or an informed speculation, if you wish - carried out by Dr Paolo C. Fienga-LXTT-IPF) in Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a normal human eye would actually perceive if someone were onboard the NASA - New Horizons Spacecraft and then looked outside, toward the Dwarf-Planet Pluto), by using an original technique created - and, in time, dramatically improved - by the Lunar Explorer Italia Team.

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