Astronomy Picture of the Day
September 20, 2015

15 minutes after Pluto... (Closer View)
15 minutes after Pluto... (Closer View)

Credits: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona - Credits for the additional process. and color.: Dr Paolo C. Fienga/Lunar Explorer Italia/IPF

Just 15 minutes after its Closest Approach to Pluto - which occurred on July, 14, 2015 -, the NASA - New Horizons Spacecraft looked back toward the Sun and captured this simply beautiful Near-Sunset View of the rugged, Icy Mountains and flat Ice Plains extending all over around and to Pluto's Horizon and Terminator Line.

The smooth expanse of the Icy Plains which have (so far) been informally named Sputnik Planum (watch to the right - Dx - of the picture) is flanked to the West (left - Sx) by rugged Mountains that reach up an altitude of approx. 11.000 feet (such as, roughly, 3352,8 meters), including the (even in this case, so far) informally named Norgay Montes (visible in the foreground) and the Hillary Montes, visible on the Skyline (---> Outer Edge/Horizon of Pluto). To the right (Dx), such as to the East of Sputnik Planum, some rougher (---> highly irregular) Terrain is cut by - what they appear to be - Glaciers. Furthermore, the backlighting, highlights several Layers of Haze in Pluto's tenuous - but quite uniform and highly distended - Atmosphere.

This image was taken from a distance of about 11.000 miles (such as approx. 17.702,74 Km) from the Surface of Pluto; finally, the whole scene is roughly 230 miles (about 370,1482 Km) wide.

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. 19947) 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 outside, 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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