By Miriam Kramer, Mashable.com, July 15, 2015 – LAUREL, Maryland — When Clyde Tombaugh first discovered Pluto in 1930, it looked like a blurry white dot against a dark background, and now, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has turned it into a world.
On Monday, one day before the New Horizons probe made history by flying by Pluto at close range, the fast-moving space probe took some amazing images of Pluto and its largest moon Charon in false color.
The new photos, released Tuesday afternoon, reveal that Pluto’s heart-shaped patch is actually split in half. The left side of the heart is actually somewhat smooth looking, while the right side is compositionally different, according to NASA.
Researchers create these false-color images to help make any compositional differences between regions on the dwarf planet’s surface stand out when compared to one another.
The newly-released pictures show that Charon has a slightly reddish north pole, which could indicated that particles from Pluto’s shallow atmosphere might be “leaking” off to that area of the moon, according to New Horizons co-investigator Will Grundy.