Pluto’s heart has been mapped by NASA and now we can finally get a better idea about its geological formation. The team of scientists has managed to map the left side of the heart-shaped region on the most distant planet in the solar system.
Named Tombaugh Regio after the man who discovered Pluto, Clyde Tombaugh, the region has created quite a hype on the Internet because of its symbolic shape. Today, we have a map of the left side of the heart called Sputnik Planum. NASA has released it with a wide array of colors in order to better understand its terrains. The map was made using twelve side images that were captured by LORRI (Long Range Reconnaisance Imager) back in July 2015.
Covering 1,290 miles or 2,070 kilometers, the map shows an immense plain made from nitrogen ice. The sharpness of the image is evaluated at 1,050 feet or 320 meters per pixel. By using numerous colors, scientists gave us a better view on the variations of terrains, but also on the geological history.
If we take a look at the map, we can see that the purple color marks the mountains that are situated on the western border of the region. On the other side, the floating ice is marked with the color pink. Cthulhu Regio has been colored in dark brown, while its craters have been drawn with yellow in order to achieve a contrast. Red stands for the Wright Mons ice volcano that is located in the south of Sputnik Planum. Lastly, black lines were used to indicate the boundaries of the polygonal regions made of nitrogen ice.
NASA has stated that the producing of such maps is imperative for understanding what processes might be at work on Pluto. Furthermore, this also gives scientists an insight on the way boundaries crosscut each other and gives them the opportunity of setting up a timeline for the dwarf planet.
The data was gathered by the New Horizons spacecraft, and researchers were stunned at the sight of the extensive images of geological diversity. At the moment, planetary scientists from NASA are trying to develop surface maps of the region. The morphology and texture of Pluto have been previously defined as ridged, craggy, hummocky or smooth, and each has been marked with a different color.
Pluto’s heart has been mapped by NASA, but this is only the first step towards understanding the history and the formation of the most distant planet from the Sun.
Image Source: NASA