Pluto is still as inhospitable for human life as Mars is, but the distant planet we’ve just begun exploring better than ever before might look a lot better than we thought. Imagery captured by the New Horizon’s shuttles reveals not only that Pluto has a blue sky like Earth’s but that there’s also frozen water on the surface.
That still doesn’t make Pluto ready to accommodate human life; it only makes it a lot more appealing (see image above).
As Wired explains, Pluto’s atmosphere has a blue hue as the planet keeps emitting molecular nitrogen. Once up in the atmosphere, the sun’s ultraviolet rays ionize the molecules which combine into larger, macroscopic, particles.
The particles are reddish to grey and heavy enough to fall back on the planet’s surface, but they contribute to the blue halo effect see in the top image.
Other pictures captured by New Horizons reveal there’s icy water on the planet (see above). NASA confirmed it’s indeed water by combining infrared and visible light data taken by two of the imagers on the shuttle.
The frozen water appears on rocky outcrops near craters and between mountains, Wired explains. More interestingly, the water has a bright red hue that the New Horizon’s team thinks it’s connected to the particles in Pluto’s atmosphere that make up the blue hue.