New Horizons image reveals Pluto’s hazy skies

Pluto sends a breathtaking farewell to New Horizons. Backlit by the sun, Pluto’s atmosphere rings its silhouette like a luminous halo in this image taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft around midnight EDT on July 15. This global portrait of the atmosphere was captured when the spacecraft was about 1.25 million miles (2 million kilometers) from Pluto and shows structures as small as 12 miles across. The image, delivered to Earth on July 23, is displayed with north at the top of the frame. (Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (WHTM) – A new image of Pluto from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft reveals layers of haze several times higher than scientists predicted.

NASA said Friday that a preliminary analysis of the image shows two distinct layers of haze – one about 50 miles above the surface and the other at an altitude of about 30 miles.

Scientists previously calculated that temperatures would be too warm for hazes to form at altitudes higher than 20 miles above Pluto’s surface.

The image was taken as the spacecraft sped away from Pluto just seven hours after its July 14 closest approach.

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