• Science

New Pluto Image Shows Enhanced View of Its Heart

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NASA released a false-color image of Pluto on Thursday, revealing an unprecedented view of the dwarf planet’s vividly contrasting patches of terrain.

The picture is a composite of multiple images taken by the New Horizons spacecraft, captured 280,000 miles away from Pluto in the days before the July 14 flyby.

The Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) aboard the probe captured photos that thrilled the world last week. Close-ups from that camera were combined with data from a Ralph instrument on board to create these new color depictions.

According to the NASA press release, the color suggests insights about Pluto’s “icy heart”: the ice appears to be originating and spreading outward from the “heart of the heart,” Sputnik Planum.

See New Horizons' Best Images of Pluto

Pluto False Color New Horizons
An enhanced color global view of pluto released on July 24, 2015. NASA/Reuters
New Horizons Pluto Heart Tombaugh Regio
In the center left of Pluto’s vast heart-shaped feature – informally named “Tombaugh Regio” - lies a vast, craterless plain that appears to be no more than 100 million years old, and is possibly still being shaped by geologic processes. This frozen region is north of Pluto’s icy mountains and has been informally named Sputnik Planum (Sputnik Plain), after Earth’s first artificial satellite. The image was acquired on July 14 from a distance of 48,000 miles (77,000 kilometers).NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
New Horizons Pluto Mountain Range
A close-up image of a region near Pluto's equator shows a range of mountains rising as high as 11,000 feet (3,500 meters) taken by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft as it passed within 7,800 feet of the dwarf planet on July 14, 2015.NASA/Getty Images
New Horizons Pluto Heart Mountain Range
A newly discovered mountain range lies near the southwestern margin of Pluto’s heart-shaped Tombaugh Regio (Tombaugh Region), situated between bright, icy plains and dark, heavily-cratered terrain. NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
New Horizons Pluto Charon
A composite image of Pluto and its largest moon Charon collected separately by New Horizons during approach on July 13 and July 14, 2015. The relative reflectivity, size, separation, and orientations of Pluto and Charon are approximated in this composite image, and they are shown in approximate true color. NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI
Pluto Heart New Horizons
Pluto, seen from the New Horizons spacecraft on July 13, 2015 just before the space craft's historic fly-by.NASA/AP
New Horizons Pluto Charon Moon
NASA's New Horizons captured this high-resolution enhanced color view of Charon just before closest approach on July 14, 2015.NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
New Horizons Pluto Charon Moon
A close up view of Pluto's largest moon, Charon.NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI
Pluto on July 14, 2015, as seen by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft while it looked back toward the sun.NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

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Write to Mia Tramz at mia.tramz@time.com and Julia Zorthian at julia.zorthian@time.com