How Did Pluto Get Its Spots?

Lights in the Dark

Color image of Pluto and Charon from June 27, 2015 (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)Color image of Pluto and Charon from June 27, 2015 (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)

As New Horizons continues to close the gap between itself and Pluto more details are being revealed in images of the planet and its (comparatively) giant moon. Some of the latest images are showing some particularly intriguing features just below Pluto’s equator: a row of somewhat evenly-spaced dark spots, each about 300 miles (480 km) wide.

The New Horizons team combined black-and-white images of Pluto and Charon from the spacecraft’s Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) with lower-resolution color data from the Ralph instrument to produce the image above.

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