The past few weeks has seen a flurry of celestial intrigue, helping to open our eyes to the possibilities of the universe.
From incredible new images of Earth, to an astronomical inquiry into the unknown – by Steven Hawking, planetary investigation has never been so popular, or widely appreciated for the wonderment it embodies.
Although the New Horizons spacecraft has completed the Pluto mission, NASA has revealed the first high-definition, false colour images of the incredible dwarf planet.
“New Horizons scientists use enhanced color images to detect differences in the composition and texture of Pluto’s surface. When close-up images are combined with color data from the Ralph instrument, it paints a new and surprising portrait of the dwarf planet.” says a statement from the NASA website.
“The “heart of the heart,” Sputnik Planum, is suggestive of a source region of ices. The two bluish-white “lobes” that extend to the southwest and northeast of the “heart” may represent exotic ices being transported away from Sputnik Planum.”
These pictures were taken on July 13 when the spacecraft was 450,000km away and present a portrait of the incredible planet in all its glory.
The spacecraft also managed to snap a few images of the planet in silhouette, backlit by the sun.
These are the last images that we will see from the mission until September, as it will take researchers at NASA a while to filter through the masses of data sent back by the New Horizons spacecraft.
Until then, enjoy the images from a galaxy far, far away.