Bruce Murray Space Image Library

New Horizons' first color map of Pluto's surface

New Horizons' first color map of Pluto's surface
New Horizons' first color map of Pluto's surface This map of Pluto, created from images taken from June 27-July 3, 2015, by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on New Horizons, was combined with lower-resolution color data from the spacecraft's Ralph instrument taken on June 25. The center of the map corresponds to the side of Pluto that will be seen close-up during New Horizons' July 14 flyby. The elongated dark area informally known as "the whale," along the equator on the left side of the map, is one of the darkest regions visible to New Horizons. It measures 3,000 kilometers in length. Directly to the right of the whale’s "snout" is the brightest region visible on the planet, which is roughly 1,600 kilometers across. This may be a region where relatively fresh deposits of frost—perhaps including frozen methane, nitrogen and/or carbon monoxide—form a bright coating. NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI

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