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The frozen canyons of Pluto’s north pole

26 February 2016 Astronomy Now

This ethereal scene captured by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft tells yet another story of Pluto’s diversity of geological and compositional features — this time in an enhanced colour image of the north polar area. A canyon about 45 miles wide runs close to the north pole, its degraded walls suggesting evidence for an ancient period of tectonics.

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Psychedelic Pluto

13 November 2015 Astronomy Now

NASA’s New Horizons scientists made this false colour image of Pluto using a technique called principal component analysis to highlight the many subtle colour differences between Pluto’s distinct regions. The image data were collected by the spacecraft’s Ralph/MVIC colour camera on 14 July at 11:11 UTC, from a range of 22,000 miles (35,000 kilometres).

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New Horizons returns full view of Pluto’s stunning crescent

30 October 2015 Astronomy Now

In September, the New Horizons team released a stunning but incomplete image of Pluto’s crescent. Thanks to updated processing work by the science team, New Horizons is releasing the entire, breathtaking image of Pluto. The team also released images showing extended mapping of the dwarf planet’s “heart” feature and young craters on Pluto’s largest moon, Charon.

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Pluto: the ice plot thickens

16 July 2015 Astronomy Now

The latest spectra from New Horizons Ralph instrument reveal an abundance of methane ice, but with striking differences from place to place across the frozen surface of Pluto. Methane ice in the dwarf planet’s north polar cap is diluted in a thick, transparent slab of nitrogen ice.