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Far Out! Psychedelic Image of Pluto Emerges From NASA Analysis

Sure, you've seen Pluto. But have you seen Pluto ... on principal component analysis?

Sure, you've seen Pluto. But have you seen Pluto ... on principal component analysis?

That's the statistical technique used by NASA to highlight differences in the color of the dwarf planet's surface that might not be obvious to the naked eye. Think of it like turning the contrast way up, but scientifically. The image was taken from about 22,000 miles away on July 14 by the New Horizons probe, which is now well on its way to the rocky Kuiper Belt.

Related: NASA Shows Pluto Flyby Video and Picks Next Destination for New Horizons

By making these slight differences in color extra-obvious (even more than the enhanced color photo), patterns emerge that otherwise may seem to be just noise or random features. Compare the colorful version above with the true-color version below and see how patterns jump out at you.

Image: Pluto
This is the last and most detailed image of Pluto sent to Earth before Tuesday's moment of closest approach. The LORRI picture was taken by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft at about 4 p.m. ET on July 13, about 16 hours before the moment of closest approach. The spacecraft was 476,000 miles (766,000 kilometers) from the surface. This view has been colorized using imagery from New Horizons' RALPH imager.NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI

New Horizons may be millions of miles past Pluto, but it's still beaming information to scientists at NASA, where planetologists and astronomers are busy picking it apart for juicy new insights. Expect more interesting imagery and discoveries to keep showing up for quite a while.