Pluto is covered in huge red patches and we don’t know what they are

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Pluto as seen by New Horizons

NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

When NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew past the dwarf planet Pluto in 2015, it found that huge swathes of the surface are covered in a strange red material. Planetary scientists thought they knew the identity of this material, but it turns out their best guess isn’t a good match, leaving it a mystery.

Many assumed that these red patches were made of tholins, organic substances that form in a world’s atmosphere and then drift down to the surface. Pluto’s atmosphere, while extremely tenuous, …

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