Pluto from Hubble

two smaller inset pictures at the top are actual images from Hubble (north at top). Each square pixel is more than 160 km (100 miles) across. At this resolution, Hubble discerns roughly 12 major 'regions' where the surface is either bright or dark. The larger images (below) are from a global map constructed through computer image-processing performed on the Hubble data. The tile pattern is an artefact of the image enhancement technique. Opposite hemispheres of Pluto are seen in these two views. Some of the variations across Pluto's surface may be caused by topographic features such as basins, or fresh impact craters. However, most of the surface features unveiled by Hubble, including the prominent northern polar cap, are likely produced by the complex distribution of frosts that migrate across Pluto's surface with its orbital and seasonal cycles and chemical byproducts deposited out of Pluto's nitrogen-methane atmosphere.

T Map of Pluto's surface, assembled by computer image-processing software from four separate images of Pluto's disk taken with the European Space Agency's (ESA) Faint Object Camera (FOC) aboard the Hubble Space Telescope. Hubble imaged nearly the entire surface, as Pluto rotated on its axis in late June and early July 1994. The map, which covers 85 per cent of the planet's surface, confirms that Pluto has a dark equatorial belt and bright polar caps, as inferred from ground-based light curves obtained during the mutual eclipses that occurred between Pluto and its satellite Charon in the late 1980s. The brightness variations in this may be due to topographic features such as basins and fresh impact craters. The black strip across the bottom corresponds to the region surrounding Pluto's south pole, which was pointed away from Earth when the observations were made, and could not be imaged.

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