NASA New Horizons Arrives at Pluto! [Enjoy This Historic Moment!]
July 14, 2015: At approximately 7:49 a.m. EST today, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft was as close as it will ever get to Pluto, approximately 7,800 miles (12,500 kilometers) above the surface. This historic moment is part of NASA’s coverage of New Horizons’ nine year, three billion mile journey to the Pluto system to gather data about Pluto and its moons.
Above: Pluto & Charon in False Color Show Compositional Diversity
This July 13, 2015, image of Pluto and Charon is presented in false colors to make differences in surface material and features easy to see. It was obtained by the Ralph instrument on NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, using three filters to obtain color information, which is exaggerated in the image. These are not the actual colors of Pluto and Charon, and the apparent distance between the two bodies has been reduced for this side-by-side view.
The image reveals that the bright heart-shaped region of Pluto includes areas that differ in color characteristics. The western lobe, shaped like an ice-cream cone, appears peach color in this image. A mottled area on the right (east) appears bluish. Even within Pluto’s northern polar cap, in the upper part of the image, various shades of yellow-orange indicate subtle compositional differences.
The surface of Charon is viewed using the same exaggerated color. The red on the dark northern polar cap of Charon is attributed to hydrocarbon materials including a class of chemical compounds called tholins. The mottled colors at lower latitudes point to the diversity of terrains on Charon.
This image was taken at 3:38 a.m. EDT on July 13, one day before New Horizons’ closest approach to Pluto.