Astronomy Picture of the Day
September 16, 2015

Surface Variety on Pluto
Surface Variety on Pluto

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

This approx. 220-miles (such as about 354,0548-Km) wide view of Pluto - taken, of course, by the NASA - New Horizons Spacecraft - illustrates (---> shows us) the incredible diversity of Surface Reflectivities (---> Albedoes) and Geological Landforms existing on this so-called "Dwarf Planet" (which gets more and more fascinating every day).

This picture includes dark, ancient and heavily Cratered Terrain (bottom of the frame); bright, smooth and geologically young Terrain (actually, it is a small portion of Sputnik Planum - look at the very top of the frame); assembled masses of Icy Mountains (center frame) and - last but not least - an enigmatic Field of dark, aligned Ridges that look like Dunes (whose origin is still under debate - look toward the center/right of the picture).

The smallest visible Surface Features here are approx. 0,5 miles (such as roughly 0,80467 Km) in size. This image was taken as the NASA - New Horizons Spacecraft flew past Pluto on July 14, 2015, at a distance of about 50.000 miles (such as approx. 80.467 Km) from its Surface.

The image (which is an Original NASA - New Horizons Spacecraft's b/w and NON Map-Projected frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 19933) has been additionally processed, magnified to aid the visibility of the details, contrast enhanced and sharpened, Gamma corrected and then colorized (according to an educated guess 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 ahead, towards 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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