Astronomy Picture of the Day
December 18, 2015

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

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 beautiful High-Resolution image-mosaic of the Dwarf-Planet Pluto sweeps over the Cratered Plains located to the West of the NASA - New Horizons Spacecraft's encounter Hemisphere and across numerous prominent Faults, skimming the Eastern Margin of the extremely dark Region so far informally known as Cthulhu Regio, and finally passing over the mysterious, and - possibly - Cryovolcanic Edifice named Wright Mons, before reaching the Terminator.

Among the many notable (---> easy to be noticed) details shown here, there are the overlapping and infilling relationships between Units of the relatively smooth, bright Volatile Ices from Sputnik Planum (look at the upper edge of the image-mosaic) and the dark Edge - or "shore" - of Cthulhu Regio.

The pictures used to create this mosaic were all taken by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) in a so-called "Ride-Along Mode", with the LEISA Spectrometer, which accounts for the 'zigzag' - or also "step pattern" of the view. 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 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, reduced in size to fit the page, 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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