The space agency NASA regularly captures stunning images of our universe, leaving space enthusiasts in awe. On Sunday, NASA shared a stunning photo on Instagram taken by its New Horizons spacecraft showing a heart-shaped glacier on the surface of Pluto. The heart-shaped region is unofficially known as the Tombaugh Regio and is made of nitrogen and methane.
The photo was captioned as ”Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Our New Horizons spacecraft captured this heart-shaped glacier. It is on the surface of Pluto, which also features mountains, canyons, valleys, craters, and plains, which are thought to be made of methane and nitrogen ice”
See the picture here:
It described the image as ”the surface of Pluto is marked with cracks and craters in brown color. A faintly visible heart appears in the lower right of the small world, surrounded by black space.”
New Horizons was launched in January 2006 and reached Pluto in July 2015, flying within 7,800 miles of its surface, becoming the first probe to fly by Pluto and its moons. The far-traveling spacecraft also visited a distant Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule (2014 MU69) in January 2019.
Instagram users liked the photo and shared various comments. One user wrote, ”Wouahh great capture, thanks to the New Horizon spacecraft.” Another commented, ”To me, Pluto will always be a planet.”
A third said, ”Why is Pluto, not a plane? it literally has heart!” A fourth added, ”Being distant doesn’t mean you’re not part of the family.”
Pluto was once considered the ninth planet in the solar system, however, it was demoted in 2006 and reclassified as a dwarf planet. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) downgraded Pluto to a dwarf planet because it did not meet the three criteria the IAU uses to define a full-sized planet.
Pluto is slightly more than 1,400 miles (2250 km) across or about half the width of the United States or two-thirds the width of the Moon. With its average temperature of -387F (-232C) – Pluto’s surface is covered in ice made of water, methane, and nitrogen and is believed to have a rocky core and possibly a deep ocean.