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After receiving the first color images of Pluto’s atmospheric hazes from the New Horizons spacecraft, NASA has today announced that Pluto has blue skies and that water ice exists on the dwarf planet.

“Who would have expected a blue sky in the Kuiper Belt? It’s gorgeous,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons principal investigator.

Just like when ultraviolet light strikes and scatter’s when encountering small nitrogen particles in earth’s atmosphere giving it the blue color, NASA believes similarly small particles must exist in Pluto’s haze. Yet they claim not to fully understand their observations as yet.

The New Horizons spacecraft, operating 3.1 billion miles (5 billion kilometers) from Earth, has also “detected numerous small, exposed regions of water ice on Pluto”. This was discovered via the Ralph spectral composition mapper upon New Horizons.

Read NASA’s full announcement.

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