News Release Archive:

News Release 306 of 1051

February 4, 2010 01:00 PM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-2010-06

New Hubble Maps of Pluto Show Surface Changes


Video: Photo-Mapped Pluto Globe

HubbleSite works better when you install the latest Flash Player for your browser and enable JavaScript.

This is the most detailed view to date of the entire surface of the dwarf planet Pluto, as constructed from multiple NASA Hubble Space Telescope photographs taken from 2002 to 2003. Hubble's view isn't sharp enough to see craters or mountains, if they exist on the surface, but Hubble reveals a complex-looking and variegated world with white, dark-orange, and charcoal-black terrain. The overall color is believed to be a result of ultraviolet radiation from the distant Sun breaking up methane that is present on Pluto's surface, leaving behind a dark, molasses-colored, carbon-rich residue. In this animation the images have been wrapped onto a rotating sphere.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Buie (Southwest Research Institute)

Selected still images from this video (click to enlarge):

Release Videos

Hubble Reveals Pluto's Changing Surface Running Time: 2 minutes 10 seconds
Photo-Mapped Pluto Globe Running Time: 12 seconds