Scientists with NASA's New Horizons mission painted Pluto in psychedelic colors for a scientific purpose rather than artful expression that is out of this world.
The scientists made the false color image of Pluto using a technique called "principal component analysis" to highlight the many subtle color differences between Pluto's distinct regions.
The image data were collected by the spacecraft’s Ralph/MVIC color camera on July 14, 2015 from a range of 22,000 miles (35,000 kilometers). This image was presented by Will Grundy of the New Horizons’ surface composition team on November 9th at the Division for Planetary Sciences meeting of the American Astronomical Society in National Harbor, Maryland. NASA’s New Horizons science team discussed more than 50 exciting discoveries about Pluto at the annual meeting.
“It’s hard to imagine how rapidly our view of Pluto and its moons are evolving as new data stream in each week. As the discoveries pour in from those data, Pluto is becoming a star of the solar system,” said mission Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “Moreover, I’d wager that for most planetary scientists, any one or two of our latest major findings on one world would be considered astounding. To have them all is simply incredible.”
Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI