back to article NASA boffins on Pluto: We see skies of BLUE and... RED water ice

Pluto's skies are a lovely blue, NASA says, after releasing new data and colour-corrected images from the New Horizons mission's swing-past the former planet. The probe detected what NASA's calling a “high altitude haze” of particles that come about as a result of “sunlight-initiated chemical reactions of nitrogen and methane …

  1. hplasm

    Blue sky at night-

    You may be on Pluto.

    Red sky at night-

    You may be upside down, on Pluto.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Blue sky at night-

      Err... more likely a fashionable choice of black or black.

      You may see some blue around that lovely yellow dot which is the Sun from that distance. The rest will be black. Pitch black. The cost of moving out to the suburbs of the Solar system I guess.

      1. hplasm

        Re: Blue sky at night-

        Black sky at, no-

        Black sky in the morning...

        .....they keep me in the DARK AND FEED ME ON PINS!!!


      2. Graham Marsden
        Thumb Up

        Re: Blue sky at night-

        At least it's not just the wrong shade of pink...

    2. msknight

      Re: Blue sky at night-

      Gah, I can't group the lines together properly. El'Reg, I need instruction on how to group lines more closely together as the spacing is being whacked out by whatever automatic thing you've got running.


      We see skies of blue and red water ice.</br>Boffins all say, "That's very nice."</br>And I think to myself, "That's a dangerous world."

      I see storms of dust and so little light,</br>Below freezing days, damn deadly nights.</br>And I think to myself what a dangerous world.

      Deimos and Phobos so pretty in the sky,</br>That sad old Beagle rover, it was a brave old try.</br>Curiosity sang, "Happy birthday to you."</br>But as Rovers go, it's lonely too.

      Maybe seeds will be sent, up there to grow.</br>Will they succeed? I'll never know.</br>And I think to myself what a dangerous world.</br>Yes, I think to myself what a dangerous world.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Blue sky at night-

        I think you meant <br>, or <br/>, but it doesn't seem to have any effect anyway. It would seem that it isn't one of the tags that is not filtered out.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Blue sky at night-

      Night Sky is blue?

      You are on Plu-

      to! Red sky at night?

      You're not upright!


  2. Winkypop Silver badge

    Science: Hmmm that's odd!

    Don't you just love new information?

    Three cheers for boffins everywhere.

    "Boffins" is not gender specific I trust.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    “We don’t yet understand the relationship between water ice and the reddish tholin colorants on Pluto's surface” and declares herself “surprised that this water ice is so red.”

    It's not water. It's tomato juice. And in commercially-exploitable quantities, too.

    1. Little Mouse

      Re: Red.

      Ice? Water?

      Fronds of red weed, more like.

      1. Graham Marsden

        Re: Red.

        Maybe it's Threads.

        Call the Weyr to rouse the Dragons...

      2. hplasm

        Re: Red.

        "Fronds of red weed, more like."



        1. stephanh

          Re: Red.

          Don't worry.

          The chances of anything coming from Mars^W Pluto are a million to one, she said.

    2. DropBear

      Re: Red.

      Hey, it might also be the finest red wine! Or possibly G12 antifreeze... Hmmm... more research is needed, clearly!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Red.

      It's tomato juice. And we're gonna rename Pluto. From now on its gonna be called "Sacramento".

      Get used to it.

    4. Primus Secundus Tertius

      Re: Red.

      It's brownish red from nitrogen dioxide, in the exhaust of alien diesel engines.

    5. cyfahead

      Re: Red.

      Perhaps.... with methane and nitrogen around, a thin atmosphere and aeons of time there has been some catalytic reduction of the methane under the influence of some local Aluminium or Gallium based catalyst (we know of GaN and AlCl3) through to ethylene or toluene and through to benzene. The released hydrogen with nitrogen gets you some ammonia and its not far from there to some aniline-based dyes..... what colour would you like? Clearly the social-democrats got there first! Yea!

  4. kryptonaut


    "As tholins reach Pluto's surface they condense" - and then they sit down and start singing about gold.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All blue

    I would have thought all skies would be blue if they were any colour at all? Isn't it just that the light refracts as it changes medium and that blue light scatters more? Regardless of atmosphere contents?

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: All blue

      But what if said atmosphere's content absorbs blue light while reflecting or not interacting with other frequencies...? Ain't gonna be blue then...

      His advocate---------------------------------------------->

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: All blue

        If no colors get scattered then the sky stays black.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Martin Budden Silver badge

      Re: All blue

      Mars has red skies but blue sunsets, the opposite of what we experience here on Earth. Apparently it is because our atmosphere has lots of air and not much dust, whereas Mars has lots of dust and not much air. Or something. Read about it here:

    3. Marcelo Rodrigues

      Re: All blue

      "I would have thought all skies would be blue if they were any colour at all? Isn't it just that the light refracts as it changes medium and that blue light scatters more? Regardless of atmosphere contents?"

      The sky of Venus is orange.

      Take a look at the Venera 11

  6. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

    Why's it so red..?

    Well.. duh!!! It's clearly bolognese sauce exuded by the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    NASA has unexpectedly stumbled upon His lair, an incursion which cannot stand unpunished and humanity will suffer His wrath.

    Eventually. I imagine the commute from Pluto is a bitch.

    1. 0laf

      Re: Why's it so red..?

      If Pluto has been caressed by His noodly appendage enough to leave a sea of holy sauce do we not need to initiate a pilgrimage to Pluto immediately?

  7. Kaltern

    So obviously Pluto has an atmosphere we didn't realise was there. And of course, it's actually really thick, but due to lack of Human habitation, the skies are so clear that the planet is easily visible.

    It's so thick that it's able to maintain the substantial heat generated from the planet's core, which, in turn, powers the abundant life, just under the surface.

    Plutonians will be considering what the thing was in the sky earlier their week. But, because they are peaceful beings, with none of the 'attributes' of us Humans, they won't really care and will carry on bathing in their vast seas of crude oil.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Vast seas of crude oil?

      I think I feel a delivery of Democracy coming on.

      There must be human rights abuses and WMDs that should be taken out of the hands of these evil Plutonians.

      1. hplasm

        Re: Vast seas of crude oil?

        But the Plutocrats would feel right at home, surely?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Vast seas of crude oil?

        Tish Sirrah! I am not at all crude, I'm jolly well highly refined, I'll have you know!

        Ben Zine.

    2. Stevie


      But, because they are peaceful beings, with none of the 'attributes' of us Humans, they won't really care and will carry on bathing in their vast seas of crude oil.

      Peaceful? Aye, if you don't count their habit of decanting people's brains into metal cylinders for purposes yet unknown.

      Beware the Fungi from Yuggoth.

  8. VinceH


    Don't let New Horizon get too close, or it may end up in a Tholin* web.

    * Yes, yes, I know it was a Tholian web in Star Trek.

    1. aregross

      Ha! I thought the same thing!

  9. frank ly

    Pictures of Pluto

    Am I right in thinking that sunlight is the illumination and they use a very long exposure and accurate camera tracking during exposure?

    1. Rustident Spaceniak

      Re: Pictures of Pluto

      Funny though it may seem, the illumination is like an early evening on Earth. The images were taken mostly with 150ms exposure time (some with 100ms); a bit too long for hand-held work with a telelens, but short enough so they could take a large number of pics during the overflight.

      1. Primus Secundus Tertius

        Re: Pictures of Pluto

        At a distance of 30AU the sunlight is about 1/900 of that at Earth. So roughly 1 watt per square metre, or the lighting level of many an indoor room here. With a good camera you should be OK.

  10. Your alien overlord - fear me

    But what about Silvia Protopapa - is she the first version father ?

    1. hplasm

      Silvia Protopapa?

      What of Barbapapa?

  11. Zmodem

    ocean surface is getting carbonated and doing the stuff that turns soil rust color like austrailian red rock

    1. Anonymous Coward

      So thats where that great big rock in the Ozzie outback comes from!

      mines the one with the kangaroo pocket - I just luve kanga leather

      1. Zmodem

        something along the lines

        soil becoming red is todo with carbon dioxide, pluto is carbon monoxide

        besides carbon, red soil is just high in iron

  12. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    So we should now call Pluto "The red planet" ???

    1. Zmodem

      the devils eye

  13. Fungus Bob

    If you were on the surface of Pluto...

    ... you would not see a blue sky because you'd be frozen like a Nutty Buddy ice cream cone!

  14. DanceMan

    The Red Menace is spreading!

    Joe McCarthy was right (far right.) He just got the planet wrong.

  15. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    I notice that...

    ...they very carefully avoid showing Icehenge in the publicly released images.

  16. kyleandrew

    So Now Pluto's A Planet Again?

    The Planet Deniers won out and the school science book folks made a fortune redoing the books to force the little kids to think Pluto was just a stupid ball of ice.

    And now this. Blue skys and red oceans.

    It's just so confusing.

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