Pluto shows two remarkably different sides in these color images of the planet and its largest moon Charon taken by New Horizons on June 25 and June 27. The images were made from black-and-white images combined with lower-resolution color data. The left image shows the side of Pluto that will be seen at highest resolution when New Horizons makes its close approach on July 14. The hemisphere is dominated by a very dark region that extends along the equator. The right image is of the side that faces Charon; the most dramatic feature on this side of Pluto is a row of dark spots arranged along the equator. (The equator appears near the bottom of the images, as only about half of the planet is shown.)
Image credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
New color images from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft show two very different faces of the mysterious dwarf planet, one with a series of intriguing spots along the equator that are evenly spaced. Each of the spots is about 300 miles in diameter, with a surface area that's roughly the size of the state of Missouri.
Scientists have yet to see anything quite like the dark spots [...] "It's a real puzzle—we don't know what the spots are, and we can't wait to find out,"
Read more: pluto.jhuapl.edu
As if that's not intriguing in it's own right, this little tidbit I came across this morning made me get out the ole tin foil headgear.
Glitch Halts New Horizons Operations as It Nears Pluto
Nine days away from an unprecedented flyby of the mysterious mini-planet Pluto, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is recovering from a computer glitch that has temporarily idled science operations.
Ground control teams lost radio contact with New Horizons for about 80 minutes on Saturday when the spacecraft put itself in an automated safe mode after it switched over from its primary to its backup computer. What triggered the computer switch is under investigation.
With New Horizons about 3 billion miles from Earth, radio signals traveling at the speed of light take about 4.5 hours to arrive and another 4.5 hours to get the spacecraft’s return messages.
“Full recovery is expected to take from one to several days,” NASA wrote in a status report on Saturday. “New Horizons will be temporarily unable to collect science data during that time.”
Read more: news.discovery.com
An interesting chain of events eh?