Surface Of Pluto Is Colorful And Snakelike

With its data being relayed back to Earth, the New Horizons space probe has revealed one groundbreaking discovery after another. Its latest batch of images shows the Plutonian surface, and it looks very much like snakeskin in texture.


William McKinnon, a member of the geology, geophysics and imaging team for the space probe, revealed in a statement that Pluto has a unique and perplexing landscape that stretches over hundreds of miles. Its surface appears to resemble tree bark or reptile scales rather than the textures typically found in geology. The area captured by the probe may have resulted due to a combination of internal tectonic forces and the sublimation of ice by Pluto’s faint sunlight.

Pluto Has A Rich color palette too


The images downlinked on Sept 19 reveal that Pluto’s surface colors, when enhanced, appear to have details of pale blues, yellows, oranges and deeper reds. John Spencer, GGI deputy lead from the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, adds that many landforms have their own distinct colors, which are telling of a complex geological and climatological landscape – one that is just beginning to be decoded for the dwarf planet.

Maps of Methane Ice on PLuto

These discoveries have been revealed though a methane ice map of Pluto’s surface, which also holds surprising contrasts: Sputnik Planum, an icy plane on Pluto, for example, has a abundant amount of methane, while the informally-called Cthulhu Regio region has no traces of methane aside from the small bit found on few isolated ridges and crater rims. The mountains along the Western flank of Sputnik Planum also are void of methane.

Researchers are uncertain as to why conditions are the way they are. However, New Horizons’ ability to make compositional maps across the surface of Pluto will help scientists learn more about the dwarf planet in an attempt to understand its inner workings. Although these new images and maps only reveal Pluto’s color and composition, much more data will be discovered as more images are down-linked and New Horizons continues its journey through the cosmos.