New images of Pluto offer a look at the planet like you’ve never seen it before – all decked out in psychedelic colors that remind one of the swinging ‘60s. However, this “psychedelic” image of Pluto is actually a false-color NASA photo released to depict the variance in color of the planet’s surfaces.
The images come from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft and were originally taken on July 14 of this year, when the craft had a close flyby encounter with Pluto. That flyby yielded a plethora of photos, and while some of the images were quite striking, the new technicolor photo of Pluto tops them all, though once again we should remind you that this is a false-color image. NASA used such a technique to underscore how varied Pluto’s surface features are – in the agency’s terms, it was used to “highlight the many subtle color differences between Pluto’s distinct regions.”
Some of the features are easily identifiable on the photo. These include the heart-shaped part of dwarf planet which measures 1,200 miles across; it’s shown on the image in pinkish hues on the left side and brighter red on the right side. Another area near the point of the heart is colored yellow, and this is an area that consists of frozen plains without craters. The darkest part of the planet is also featured here – this is the Cthulhu Region, which is located on the southwest corner of Pluto and grayish in color, with pink-purple streaks nearby.
Other terrain is noted accordingly in the picture, though that’s just scratching the surface as New Horizons keeps sending back data that was gathered earlier this year during the flyby.