NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft discovered bright shiny halo craters on Pluto’s west area known as Vega Terra region. The halo craters are reported to be covered with big spots made up of methane ice, which has put the astronomers into a state of bewilderment.
“Within Pluto’s informally named Vega Terra region is a field of eye-catching craters that looks like a cluster of bright halos scattered across a dark landscape,” said NASA officials, as reported by Nature World News. “One of the photos showed numerous craters with halos, with the largest approximately measuring about 30 miles 50 kilometers across. The said area has dark floors and apparent terrains, making their bright walls and rims stand out, creating the halo effect.”
Moreover, HNGN reported that the Vega Terra region appears as if it contains water ice. But, the research team of the New Horizons spacecraft has confirmed that the snow seen on Pluto’s halo craters is very different from that on the Earth’s surface. “The main difference is that the snow on Pluto is made of methane that condensed into ice,” reported Gizmodo. “This means that methane ice is like water in Pluto such that it turns into frost in high altitudes.”
With all the talks about the mystery of the methane ice on Pluto’s halo craters, few reports claim that the presence of bright snow is nothing new on the planet’s surface. “In March, scientists captured images of snowcapped mountains made of methane tholins that were made visible against the darker surface region of Pluto’s Cthulhu region,” reported Space.
Meanwhile, there are reports that the reason why the Pluto’s halo craters are covered with methane ice is yet unknown. Previously, there were reports that the methane ice does not settle anywhere on the planet.
“Exactly why the bright methane ice settles on these crater rims and walls is a mystery; also puzzling is why this same effect doesn’t occur broadly across Pluto,” said the space agency in a press release, as reported by Cosmos.
Additionally, it has been reported that the NASA’s New Horizon spacecraft took the planet’s pictures from around 28,000 miles and 106,700 miles from the planet on July 14, 2015.
The images are reported to have been captured by using the New Horizons spacecraft’s Long Range Reconnaissance Imager aka LORR. The captured snapshot has shown shades of purple and blue to specify the methane ice structure of the halo craters.