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Description
English: Oct. 8, 2015 - New Horizons Finds Blue Skies and Water Ice on Pluto

http://www.nasa.gov/nh/nh-finds-blue-skies-and-water-ice-on-pluto

WATER ICE DETECTED

In a second significant finding, New Horizons has detected numerous small, exposed regions of water ice on Pluto. The discovery was made from data collected by the Ralph spectral composition mapper on New Horizons.

CAPTION:

Water Ice on Pluto: Regions with exposed water ice are highlighted in blue in this composite image from New Horizons' Ralph instrument, combining visible imagery from the Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) with infrared spectroscopy from the Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA). The strongest signatures of water ice occur along Virgil Fossa, just west of Elliot crater on the left side of the inset image, and also in Viking Terra near the top of the frame. A major outcrop also occurs in Baré Montes towards the right of the image, along with numerous much smaller outcrops, mostly associated with impact craters and valleys between mountains. The scene is approximately 280 miles (450 kilometers) across. Note that all surface feature names are informal.

DESCRIPTION:

“Large expanses of Pluto don’t show exposed water ice,” said science team member Jason Cook, of SwRI, “because it’s apparently masked by other, more volatile ices across most of the planet. Understanding why water appears exactly where it does, and not in other places, is a challenge that we are digging into.”

A curious aspect of the detection is that the areas showing the most obvious water ice spectral signatures correspond to areas that are bright red in recently released color images. “I’m surprised that this water ice is so red,” says Silvia Protopapa, a science team member from the University of Maryland, College Park. “We don’t yet understand the relationship between water ice and the reddish tholin colorants on Pluto's surface.”

The New Horizons spacecraft is currently 3.1 billion miles (5 billion kilometers) from Earth, with all systems healthy and operating normally.

Last Updated: Oct. 8, 2015

Editor: Lillian Gipson
Date
Source http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/context_map3-final.jpg
Author NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

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current15:48, 8 October 2015Thumbnail for version as of 15:48, 8 October 2015985 × 390 (83 KB)DrbogdanUser created page with UploadWizard
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