Plutoís changing surface

Plutoís changing surface

Fig. 15.2 . Dark-orange and charcoal-black terrain is seen on three sides of Pluto. Ultraviolet radiation from the Sun is thought to break up methane that is on the dwarf planetís surface, leaving behind a dark, carbon-rich residue. The center image, at 180 degrees, has a bright spot that is unusually rich in carbon-monoxide frost. These images were constructed from multiple Hubble Space Telescope, abbreviated HST, observations in 2002-2003. When compared with HST images taken in 1994, seasonal changes in color and brightness are detected, probably created when ices melt and refreeze and the tenuous atmosphere changes. Although these views are not sharp enough to resolve mountains or craters, they provide background for closer scrutiny when the New Horizons spacecraft encounters Pluto in 2015 (Courtesy of NASA/ESA/Marc Buie, SRI.)

Copyright 2010, Professor Kenneth R. Lang, Tufts University