NASA gets trippy with close-up psychedelic Pluto image

13 Nov 2015

Pluto image via NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

NASA isn’t known for dabbling in the funky or bizarre, but today the space agency revealed a new false-colour image of the solar system’s distant dwarf planet, Pluto.

Since the New Horizons spacecraft drifted by Pluto, at a phenomenal speed. mind you, we have received thousands of close-up, high-resolution images of the dwarf planet, which revealed many, many details NASA scientists weren’t even expecting.

Only the other day, NASA detailed some of its latest findings, which included the spotting of giant cryovolcanoes that spew water, ice, ammonia, nitrogen or methane, as well as signs of significant tectonic activity.

Safe to say, NASA has been more than pleasantly surprised by what the New Horizons mission has found, with its director of planetary science, Jim Green, saying recently: “[It took] what we thought we knew about Pluto and turned it upside down.”

But now, NASA is getting down and funky with this new false colour image of Pluto, which was created using a technique called principal component analysis, to highlight the many subtle colour differences between Pluto’s distinct regions.

This particular image was snapped by New Horizons using its Ralph/MVIC colour camera on the day of the flyby, 14 July, 35,000km from the planet’s surface.

It’s been some months now since the New Horizons flyby, but the craft is currently in the Edgeworth-Kuiper belt where it will continue sending back scientific data, for a few more years at least.

Psychedelic Pluto

Psychedelic Pluto image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic