Pluto has a blue sky, NASA announced today, offering up more information revealed by the New Horizons probe’s visit to the planet last month:
Pluto’s haze layer shows its blue color in this picture taken by the New Horizons Ralph/Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC). The high-altitude haze is thought to be similar in nature to that seen at Saturn’s moon Titan. The source of both hazes likely involves sunlight-initiated chemical reactions of nitrogen and methane, leading to relatively small, soot-like particles (called tholins) that grow as they settle toward the surface. This image was generated by software that combines information from blue, red and near-infrared images to replicate the color a human eye would perceive as closely as possible.
The New Horizons spacecraft is currently 3.1 billion miles (5 billion kilometers) from Earth and is still operating normally, the agency said.