This psychedelic image of Pluto shows off its biggest mysteries

Pluto may be tiny planet but it is a huge geologic mystery. The dwarf planet has completely stumped scientists with its ice mountains, slush-spewing volcanoes, sporadic patches of craters, and unusually smooth plains.

To better understand what’s going on here, NASA just created a false colour image of Pluto (above) using data that the New Horizons spacecraft collected when it flew past the dwarf planet in July.

The different colours represent the many types of surface textures and terrain that are present on the planet.

Compare the psychedelic-coloured photo to a regular colour image of Pluto, below. The features are much more difficult to discern:

Pluto hi resolution nasa new horizonsNASA/JHUAPL/SWRIA natural colour image of Pluto.

Scientists used a technique called “principal component analysis” to create the false-colour image. The contrast makes it easy to appreciate the complexity of this tiny world — although researchers are still working hard to understand what it all means.

New Horizons scientist Will Grundy presented the photo on November 9 at the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) meeting in Maryland.

Were expecting much more data from New Horizons over the next few months, and hopefully some of it will help scientists unravel the mysteries of Pluto.

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