What Is the Mysterious Heart on Pluto?

Heart on Pluto

The last time we wrote about uncanny things in the solar system was What Is the Mysterious Pyramid on Mars? That was only the latest in a string of bizarre observations — see First, Face on Mars. Now, Arrow on Titan. Before that we wrote about Obama’s Face on Mars!

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any stranger, NASA releases a picture of a Heart on Pluto. You can see it in the pic above this post, which is from the NASA website. We assume it’s not protected by copyright. Their article is NASA’s New Horizons: A “Heart” from Pluto as Flyby Begins. NASA says:

After a more than nine-year, three-billion-mile journey to Pluto, it’s show time for NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, as the flyby sequence of science observations is officially underway. In the early morning hours of July 8, mission scientists received this new view of Pluto — the most detailed yet returned by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) aboard New Horizons. The image was taken on July 7, when the spacecraft was just under 5 million miles (8 million kilometers) from Pluto, and is the first to be received since the July 4 anomaly that sent the spacecraft into safe mode.

It took them long enough to release the picture with the Heart. What else are they keeping from us? NASA continues:

This view is centered roughly on the area that will be seen close-up during New Horizons’ July 14 closest approach. This side of Pluto is dominated by three broad regions of varying brightness. Most prominent are an elongated dark feature at the equator, informally known as “the whale,” and a large heart-shaped bright area measuring some 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometers) across on the right. Above those features is a polar region that is intermediate in brightness.

It’s 1,200 miles across. That’s a big heart! Here’s the rest of if:

“The next time we see this part of Pluto at closest approach, a portion of this region will be imaged at about 500 times better resolution than we see today,” said Jeff Moore, Geology, Geophysics and Imaging Team Leader of NASA’s Ames Research Center. “It will be incredible!”

Maybe they’ll release the new photos. [*Sinister voice mode*] Maybe they won’t.

For those with an insatiable interest in Pluto, the latest article at PhysOrg is NASA craft discovers heart shape on Pluto as flyby nears. The only thing they add about the Heart is this:

[T]he best image yet was taken on July 7 when New Horizons was just under five million miles (eight million kilometers) from Pluto. The image shows a light-colored heart shape some 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometers) across, and a darker, whale-like shadow at its side. “I love this one,” said Olkin, indicating that the shape could be due to ice. [That’s Cathy Olkin, deputy project scientist for New Horizons.]

What do you think, dear reader? Is it ice? Or something more? BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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13 responses to “What Is the Mysterious Heart on Pluto?

  1. The clearly-discernable widow’s peak hairline gives it away.

    This is the face of Mickey Mouse…

  2. Megalonyx says: “This is the face of Mickey Mouse”

    According to Olivia, yours is the face of King Kong.

  3. Pluto has cleavage! Smile!

  4. Stephen Kennedy

    Much more detail will be visible as New Horizons gets closer to Pluto. This photograph was from about 5 million km. The telescope on New Horizons has an aperture of 21 cm which is exactly the same as the aperture of my telescope. When I view the Moon, which is at a distance of 364,000 km, I can clearly see craters, mountains within craters, mountain ranges, rilles, valleys and a host of other fine details.

    New Horizons will get as close as 10,000 km to Pluto’s surface and unlike me will not have to view through a resolution degrading atmosphere, so the detail seen in its 21 cm telescope is going to be astonishing.

  5. The Intelligent Designers – blessed be them! – sent us a Valentine from the Cambrian and we’re just now getting it.

  6. Our Curmudgeon again mishears:

    According to Olivia, yours is the face of King Kong.

    It is my pace and stamina in..ahem…certain joint physical pastimes that Olivia likens me to ‘a magnificent jungle beast.’

    I don’t expect you to grasp how great a compliment this was.

  7. The off-topic fantasies of Megalonyx are understandable. His only astronomical interest is in the Seventh Planet — the world which dare not speak its name.

  8. What?? No one’s made a crack yet about Pluto’s “cold, cold heart”?

  9. The designer “blessed be he” has either used Pluto as a giant wrench head as the shape clearly indicates (the ‘tute only has to come up with a valid hypothesis as to where he ditched the wrench handle), OR earth is actually a colored circle in a maze square and Pluto is actually a giant Pac Man intent on gobbling us up. The designer “blessed be he,” constructed this galaxy size PacMan game for his kids.

  10. This is probably the best site to follow the mission. Getting really close now!

    http://pluto.jhuapl.edu

  11. @Ed: Thanks for the great link!

  12. Dave Luckett

    Resolution issue, methinks. At this resolution, Australia would look like a heart.