Details as small as 0.8 miles (1.3km) are visible in this enhanced color image of Pluto.(NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI). Pluto’s surface is so unusual that even the geologists studying it are at a loss as to how to explain how it was formed. After studying detailed images of the dwarf planet’s surface, William McKinnon, a member of the New Horizons geology, geophysics, and imaging (GGI) team, described it as looking “more like tree bark or dragon scales than geology.”
Scientists got their first detailed look at Pluto’s surface after high-res and enhanced color images from the New Horizon probe arrived on Earth last week (they were taken in July). To take the color images, New Horizons’ camera, the “Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera” combined blue, red, and infrared snapshots. Some of the colors were then enhanced to highlight subtleties among the wide range of colors on the surface.