Pluto looks like a dragon planet in these new pictures
You may know of Pluto as a “dwarf planet,” but it may be time to change this nickname to something just as mythological: dragon planet.
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft recently captured an image that has scientists mystified. In the close-up shot, it looks as though Pluto has sprouted some scales – which are equal parts beautiful and fascinating. “It’s a unique and perplexing landscape stretching over hundreds of miles,” revealed New Horizons’ William McKinnon. “It looks more like tree bark or dragon scales than geology. This’ll really take time to figure out; maybe it’s some combination of internal tectonic forces and ice sublimation driven by Pluto’s faint sunlight.”
While scientists may be yearning to learn more about this phenomenon, one thing’s for sure: Pluto is just one example of how stunning/crazy cool our universe can be. Now, can you imagine what remarkable secrets other planets may be hiding?
Aside from this scale-filled photo, there’s an additional image that represents the dwarf planet’s rich color palette. “Pluto’s surface colors were enhanced in this view to reveal subtle details in a rainbow of pale blues, yellows, oranges, and deep reds,” said Southwest Research Institute’s John Spencer. “Many landforms have their own distinct colors, telling a wonderfully complex geological and climatological story that we have only just begun to decode.”
Okay, so Pluto has scales and is also super colorful? Our next question: when and where can we sign up for a mission to this fairy tale-like location?
And… it just keeps getting better.
In the third photo that was released, it shows that Pluto has a diverse terrain filled with dunes, cliffs, and various pits. In other words: This would be the perfect planet to explore in person.
“With these just-downlinked images and maps, we’ve turned a new page in the study of Pluto beginning to reveal the planet at high resolution in both color and composition,” explained New Horizons’ Alan Stern. “I wish Pluto’s discoverer Clyde Tombaugh had lived to see this day.” (Clyde Tombaugh was an American astronaut who actually discovered Pluto back in 1930. We have a feeling he would’ve loved this new information.)
In the future – with proper funding, of course – NASA hopes to collect more data about this planet’s surface. As for us, we are now very excited to see what else they can find out.
[Images via Twitter]