Peer Into the Frozen Heart of Pluto

Man, this really is like Christmas in July with all the stuff New Horizons is sending back!  The heart on Pluto is a very dramatic albedo feature (that is, a formation seen only from the patterns of light and dark), and as such, it’s got a name. Most of Pluto’s things are named for gods of the underworld and so forth, but they made an excellent exception for this.  Just as the dark hemisphere of Iapetus is named for the moon’s discoverer, Cassini Regio, this is named for Pluto’s discoverer: Tombaugh Regio.

Like all the up-close images so far, this has only come down in very highly compressed low res form; the full, uncompressed version will be coming later.  But it’s already a feast for the eyes.  Check it out:

pluto_heart_of_the_heart_03

Tombaugh Regio is an incredibly vast plain almost completely devoid of craters, and thus presumed to be less than 100 million years old.  It may even be active today for all we know right now.  This picture certainly would fit with geologic activity, though heck if I know what process can make this.  It’s beautiful.

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