This image showing an area near the line that separates day from night, captures a vast rippling landscape of strange, aligned linear ridges that has astonished New Horizons team members.
In this extended color image of Pluto, rounded and bizarrely textured mountains, informally named the Tartarus Dorsa, rise up along Pluto’s day-night terminator and show intricate but puzzling patterns of blue-gray ridges and reddish material in between.
This view, roughly 530 kilometers across, combines blue, red and infrared images taken by the Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera [MVIC] on July 14, 2015, and resolves details and colors on scales as small as 1.3 kilometers.
“It’s a unique and perplexing landscape stretching over hundreds of miles,” said William McKinnon, New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging [GGI] team deputy lead from Washington University in St. Louis.
“It looks more like tree bark or dragon scales than geology. This’ll really take time to figure out; maybe it’s some combination of internal tectonic forces and ice sublimation driven by Pluto’s faint sunlight,” he added in a statement.
The “snakeskin” image of Pluto’s surface is just one tantalizing piece of data New Horizons sent back in recent days. The spacecraft also captured the highest-resolution color view yet of Pluto, as well as detailed spectral maps and other high-resolution images.