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NASA shares a stunning image of Pluto that shows its true colors

NASA shares a stunning image of Pluto that shows its true colors

NASA described Pluto’s surface as cracked and cratered, colored white, brown and brown-red

NASA shared a stunning image on Instagram on Saturday taken by its New Horizons spacecraft that shows Pluto’s true colors. The photo, taken at a distance of 22,025 miles (35,445 km) from Pluto, also shows its “heart”, a giant glacier composed of nitrogen and methane. Pluto’s surface is covered in ice composed of water, methane and nitrogen and is believed to have a rocky core and possibly a deep ocean.

NASA described Pluto’s surface as cracked and cratered, colored white, brown and brown-red. As the white and tan descend at the top of the photo to meet the brown-red surface, the partially visible “heart” can be seen in white.

The space agency shared the image of Pluto and captioned it: “Minor planetary body on Saturday? Taken by our New Horizons spacecraft at a distance of 22,025 miles (35,445 km), this image shows Pluto’s true colors, including the dwarf planet’s “heart,” a glacier the size of Texas and Oklahoma made of nitrogen and methane.

See the photo here:

Orbiting at a distance of 3.7 billion miles (5.9 billion km), New Horizons is the first spacecraft to visit Pluto and is expected to explore the Kuiper Belt, a region believed to be full of small objects left behind since the creation of our solar system, NASA said.

Pluto was once considered the ninth planet in the Solar System, but in 2006 it was downgraded and reclassified as a dwarf planet. International Astronomical Union (IAU) downgraded Pluto to that of a dwarf planet because it does not meet the three criteria the IAU uses to designate a full-sized planet. A “dwarf planet,” as defined by the IAU, is a celestial body in direct orbit of the Sun that is massive enough that its shape is controlled by gravitational rather than mechanical forces, but has not cleared its neighborhood of other objects .

Pluto is just over 1,400 miles (2,250 km) wide, about half the width of the United States or 2/3 the width of the Moon. With an average temperature of -387F (-232C), Pluto’s surface is covered in ice made of water, methane and nitrogen and is believed to have a rocky core and possibly a deep ocean.

Another distinctive feature of Pluto’s surface is a large heart-shaped region known informally as the Tombaugh Regio, according to Space.Com. The left side of the region (an area that takes the shape of an ice cream cone) is covered with carbon monoxide ice. Other variations in the composition of surface materials have been identified in the “heart” of Pluto.

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