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The Global Color of Pluto from New Horizons

Abstract : The New Horizons flyby provided the first high-resolution color maps of Pluto. We present here, for the first time, an analysis of the color of the entire sunlit surface of Pluto and the first quantitative analysis of color and elevation on the encounter hemisphere. These maps show the color variation across the surface from the very red terrain in the equatorial region, to the more neutral colors of the volatile ices in Sputnik Planitia, the blue terrain of East Tombaugh Regio, and the yellow hue on Pluto's North Pole. There are two distinct color mixing lines in the color-color diagrams derived from images of Pluto. Both mixing lines have an apparent starting point in common: the relatively neutral-color volatile-ice covered terrain. One line extends to the dark red terrain exemplified by Cthulhu Regio and the other extends to the yellow hue in the northern latitudes. There is a latitudinal dependence of the predominant color mixing line with the most red terrain located near the equator, less red distributed at mid-latitudes and more neutral terrain at the North Pole. This is consistent with the seasonal cycle controlling the distribution of colors on Pluto. Additionally, the red color is consistent with tholins. The yellow terrain (in the false color images) located at the northern latitudes occurs at higher elevations.
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Submitted on : Thursday, June 9, 2022 - 5:59:07 PM
Last modification on : Saturday, June 25, 2022 - 3:06:32 AM

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Catherine B. Olkin, John R. Spencer, William M. Grundy, Alex H. Parker, Ross A. Beyer, et al.. The Global Color of Pluto from New Horizons. The Astronomical Journal, 2017, 154, ⟨10.3847/1538-3881/aa965b⟩. ⟨insu-03692464⟩

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