New Photos Show Pluto May Have Polar Ice Cap

A color image of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon. (PHOTO CREDIT: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)
A color image of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon. (PHOTO CREDIT: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute)

New images from the New Horizons probe approaching Pluto indicate it might have a polar cap of nitrogen ice, NASA says.

The observation came in a series of pixilated images taken April 12-19 as the spacecraft closed in from 69 million miles to 64 million miles. Combined into an animation, the latest views show a rotating Pluto circled by Charon, the largest of its five known moons.

How cold is it on Pluto? Its surface temperature is estimated at minus 387 degrees Fahrenheit.

The images also reveal “changing brightness patterns from place to place as Pluto rotates, presumably caused by large-scale dark and bright patches,” NASA said Tuesday.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Michael Winter

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