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!
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