Fri, Jul 24, 2015 at 6:06:09 pm
The colors in this image of Pluto from the New Horizons spacecraft aren't simulated or enhanced; they're the real deal. Very close to what a human eye would see if that person was flying past Pluto at 36,000 miles per hour. They were captured by Ball Aerospace's Ralph instrument, named after Ralph Kramden in "The Honeymooners." Yes, really.
Four images from New Horizons' Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) were combined with color data from the Ralph instrument to create this sharper global view of Pluto. (The lower right edge of Pluto in this view currently lacks high-resolution color coverage.) The images, taken when the spacecraft was 280,000 miles (450,000 kilometers) away from Pluto, show features as small as 1.4 miles (2.2 kilometers). That's twice the resolution of the single-image view captured on July 13 and revealed at the approximate time of New Horizons' July 14 closest approach.
Bonus: an amazing simulated fly-over of some of the terrain photographed by New Horizons: