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Images of Pluto and Charon taken by New Horizons in artificial colors highlight the enormous variety of terrain trajectory on these two worlds

The images were taken using three color filters on the "Ralph" instrument, one of the seven scientific instruments on board New Horizons, on July 13 (the day before the transition).

The dwarf planet Pluto (on the left) and its moons as a coffin in artificial colors that emphasize the differences in the route of the terrain and the composition of the materials on their surfaces. Photographed in three color filters by the Ralph instrument aboard the New Horizons spacecraft, July 13, 2015.
The dwarf planet Pluto (on the left) and its moons as a coffin in artificial colors that emphasize the differences in the route of the terrain and the composition of the materials on their surfaces. Photographed in three color filters by the Ralph instrument aboard the New Horizons spacecraft, July 13, 2015.

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, which passed by the dwarf planet Pluto today, transmitted an impressive image of Pluto and its large moon Charon, illustrating their diversity and complexity. This is not a true color image. Pluto and Charon are seen here in exaggerated colors that make it easier to distinguish the difference between different materials and features on the surface of each of these planetary bodies.

The photos were taken using three color filters on a "Ralph" device on July 13 (the day before the transition). New Horizons carries seven scientific instruments, including Ralph and Alice named after the heroes of the XNUMXs TV series Honeymooners.

"These images show Pluto and Charon as complex worlds with lots of things going on," says Will Grundy of the Lowell Observatory in Arizona and New Horizons Science Fellow. "The surface composition team is working as fast as they can to identify the compositions of all the separate zones on Pluto and reveal the processes that made them look that way."
The color data helps scientists understand the molecular composition of the ice on the surface of Pluto and Charon, as well as the age of geological features such as craters. They can also tell us about the changes caused by the 'space weather', such as radiation.

Pluto's heart

The color images reveal that the "heart" on Pluto actually consists of two areas that differ in color. In this false-color image, the heart contains an ice cream cone-shaped western lobe, which appears in this peach-colored image. The mottled area on the right (east) looks bluer. A band in the mid-latitudes visible in colors ranging from bluish to red. Even inside the northern ice cap, in the upper part of the image you can see different shades of yellow-orange indicating subtle differences in the chemical composition.

Hydrocarbons on Charon

Charon is also no less beautiful. The surface of Charon was photographed using the same method and is seen here in exaggerated colors. The red color in the dark northern ice cap is attributed to hydrocarbons and other molecules, a type of chemical compounds called tholins. The mottled colors in the low latitudes indicate the diversity of the terrain route on Charon. This photo was also taken using three color filters on a Ralph device.

"We prepared these images in artificial colors to highlight the diversity of surface environments in the Pluto system," says Dennis Reuter, research associate and member of the New Horizons ground vehicle team. "The figures provide us with an intuitive way to understand that there is still much to learn from the data that is expected to arrive."

Due to the enormous distance - 5 billion kilometers, it takes four and a half hours for the signals to reach the Earth even though they travel at the speed of light. It will take 16 months to download the scientific data currently being collected by the spacecraft and the treasure that will be gathered in this mission will be explored for many more decades.

For information on the NASA website

More on the subject on the science website"

10 תגובות

  1. It's true that you don't buy a camera like this at the supermarket, but you certainly don't upgrade it two weeks before launch just because you feel like it. The list of devices is closed many years before the launch, the devices are specially designed for the conditions and specifications required of them and the technologies used are recognized and proven technologies at the time of planning. To this must be added the construction time, the computer programming time, the integration time of all the systems in the spacecraft and the stringent tests - and a little extra so that everything is ready for the launch date.

    If we take for example the central processor of the spacecraft computer (and there are two units of two computers), then it is a Mongoose-V model, a hardened version of the MIPS R-3000 processor, a 32-bit 12MHz processor introduced in 1988. Apparently the 486 computer The one I had 23 years ago was faster.

  2. Even 20 years ago there were high quality cameras and you don't put a camera bought in a supermarket in such a spaceship. What's more, a camera
    It's easy to upgrade so she's probably 12 or older. If you are willing to accept the long broadcast time then you can
    Photos are also high quality.

  3. First, the spacecraft has been on the way for 10 years. Secondly, when we examined and chose the equipment that would be on it, it was several years earlier, in 2001. But even in 2001, they could not choose state-of-the-art equipment from the shelf, but one that had passed strict tests and was resistant to radiation and the conditions prevailing in space. That's why the camera on the spacecraft and the computer are something that is technologically about 25 years old today. Add to that the bandwidth of the data, you cannot expect such equipment to provide the kind of quality you see on an HD screen.

  4. Artificial colors are nice, but first I would like to see these planets in their true colors, as an astronaut would see them if they were looking through the spacecraft window.

  5. The quality of a web camera is only what could be sent, don't forget that there is a transfer rate of 2 kilobits per second, and that during the transition the spacecraft could not even send that too so as not to waste unnecessary resources on the transmission (very far, very expensive). Now, little by little, high quality images and many scientific data will begin to flow.

  6. Now there is no longer an excuse - a mission of billions (700 million spacecraft cost + peripheral costs > 1 billion...) and photo quality of a web camera?

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