Space scientists have got hold of images that showcase the radiant blue hue around the dwarf planet Pluto. The images have been sent by NASA’s New Horizons space probe. Other than revealing the planet’s blue skies, those images have also shown that Pluto’s surface is home to water ice.
The principal investigator of New Horizons Alan Stern said that they never thought that there can be blue sky on the Kuiper Belt. According to him, the views offered by the images are “gorgeous”.
The images revealed that the sky of the dwarf planet become blue in color when the haze particles emit blue light. According to NASA, those haze particles are most likely red or gray in color.
Another significant revelation made by the New Horizons space probe is that there are small areas of water ice on the dwarf planet. The scientists, however, were not sure about the existence of water ice on the planet. They confirmed that Pluto has areas with water ice only after reviewing data offered by New Horizons’ Ralph spectral composition mapper.
Jason Cook, a member of the science team at the Boulder, Colorado-based Southwest Research Institute, said that large portions of Pluto don’t have any sign of exposed water ice as those parts are covered by ices that are more volatile. He added that currently he and his colleagues are trying to find out why water is present only in certain places and not in all parts of Pluto.
At this moment, the piano-sized NASA probe is moving through the Kuiper Belt. For those who don’t know: the Kuiper Belt is an area located on the edge of our solar system. After gathering a significant amount of data about Pluto using this efficient probe, the space agency is right now planning to use it for a flyby of another Kuiper Belt object called the 2014 MU69. The 2014 MU69 is located around a billion miles away from Pluto.
According to information provided by NASA, New Horizons loses several watts of power every year. However, the agency has confirmed that still it has 20 more years of life expectancy. The latest update from the agency suggests that the probe is located 3.1 billion miles away from the Earth, and all its systems are performing normally.