NASA scientists announced on Wednesday that the New Horizons interplanetary space probe had captured the first close-up high-resolution photos of Pluto in history.
For one, Pluto has virtually no craters.
A model of the New Horizons spacecraft that passed within 12,500 kilometres of Pluto on Wednesday, is on display at a Nasa news conference in Laurel, Maryland. He marveled: “I think the whole system is fantastic….” He marveled: “The Pluto system IS something wonderful”. They informally renamed it Tombaugh Reggio, after the man who discovered it, Clyde Tombaugh, and whose ashes-aboard New Horizons-are now headed out of the solar system. And it is most certainly not frozen in time.
“It might be active right now”, said project scientist John Spencer. Pluto itself is 4.5 billion years old.
These mountains lie on the edge of the heart-shaped region (which of course has led to some excitement).
“We do know that other things are in Pluto’s orbital plane which is why it kind of got knocked out of what we call the “Main 8″, said Olah. It’s going to send a lot of geophysicists back to the drawing board”. “The data look absolutely gorgeous, and Pluto and Charon are just mind blowing”.
Composition: As we’ve known for a while, Pluto is more similar to our home than it is to its gassy neighbors, Uranus and Neptune, in that it’s made up of mostly rock and ice, but the early indications are that it’s more interesting than your average comet or other cold, dead bodies like our moon.
“That can only mean that Hydra’s surface is primarily composed of water ice”, he said. Now, suddenly, Pluto is in the rear-view mirror and New Horizons is plunging deeper into the darkness of space. The United States is now the only nation to visit every single planet in the solar system. Its unusual characteristics as a small rocky planet beyond the large gaseous giants of the outer solar system had long baffled scientists. Or it could be coming from energy released by the gradual freezing of an underground ocean. The image also shows a canyon estimated to be 4 to 6 miles (7 to 9 kilometers) deep.
This Nasa image shows Pluto and Charon presented in false colors to make differences in surface material and features easy to see.
Charon might have been upstaged by Pluto, but another incredible find announced today was that the dwarf planet’s moon is also active.