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Methane on Pluto

Methane on Pluto

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NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI

Methane on Pluto
Spectra from the New Horizons Ralph instrument acquired on July 12, 2015 reveal an abundance of methane ice, but with striking differences from place to place across the frozen surface of Pluto. This is the first detailed image of Pluto from the Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array, part of the Ralph instrument. The observations were made at three infrared wavelengths. In this picture, blue corresponds to light of wavelengths 1.62 to 1.70 micrometers, a channel covering a medium-strong absorption band of methane ice, green (1.97 to 2.05 micrometers) represents a channel where methane ice does not absorb light, and red (2.30 to 2.33 micrometers) is a channel where the light is very heavily absorbed by methane ice. The two areas outlined on Pluto show where Ralph observations obtained the spectral traces at the right. Note that the methane absorptions (notable dips) in the spectrum from the northern region are much deeper than the dips in the spectrum from the dark patch.

Most NASA images are in the public domain. Reuse of this image is governed by NASA's image use policy.

Original image data dated on or about July 12, 2015

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