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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pluto's tiny atmosphere and pure methane on its icy surface

Pluto's tiny atmosphere and pure methane on its icy surface
Click on the image to enlarge

Artist's impression of how the surface of Pluto might look, according to one of the two models that a team of astronomers has developed to account for the observed properties of Pluto's atmosphere, as studied with CRIRES. The image shows patches of pure methane on the surface and Charon is visible near the left border of the image. At the distance of Pluto, the sun appears about 1,000 times fainter than on Earth.
Credit: ESO/L. Calçada

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