NASA Names Craterless Plain on Pluto After Tombaugh

The thing is that, scientific accomplishments aside, this NASA mission to Pluto grabbed headlines for one other very simple reason: we Earth dwellers still haven’t quite come to terms that Pluto is now considered a dwarf planet. She was also the mother of Charyon, the mythological ferrymen that transported the dead who had the misfortune of winding up in Hades.


An image taken by Nasa’s New Horizon showing smooth icy plains in Pluto’s “heart” in addition to the young mountain range clearly indicate that the planet is active and still undergoing changes. This is the only region on the dwarf planet known to contain such rich deposits of the material.

It will take 16 months for all of the data captured by New Horizons’ instruments to reach scientists on Earth. The Solar Wind Around Pluto (SWAP) revealed that this cavity is populated by Nitrogen gas forming a “plasma tail” of undetermined structure and length, Canada Journal noted. It was estimated that around 500 tons of material an hour is escaping from the planet.

Of course, that is not to say that Pluto is any more hospitable of a planet to life than Mars. Rather, his detailed depiction of the dwarf planet emerged from scientifically based probabilities concerning its atmosphere, ground features, and geological activity. I couldn’t believe it. There was this big meeting of all the scientists and it was discussed and discussed and on September 15, 2006, an article appeared in The New York Times declaring that the conclusion had been reached that Pluto was not a planet at all. They are also looking for any indications that Pluto might have rings around it, like Saturn.

We all geeked out last week over the first good photos of Pluto, but what comes next for the tough little probe that flew 3 billion miles to get us those shots? Although the photograph released by NASA has extremely low resolution, the image is still twice as detailed as is possible using the Hubble Space Telescope.

This means it can only send back its data at a very slow rate.

Imagine what it must take to blow the mind of a space scientist. There is still plenty of space debris that scientists would like to learn more from, and that will be New Horizons’ focus for the next years, or until it runs out of fuel and power. The distance just allows for approximately a kilobit of data per second to be transmitted back to Earth.

The mountains on Pluto likely formed no more than 100 million years ago – mere youngsters in a 4.56-billion-year-old solar system. And here in Utah it’s a “Pluto Palooza”, with events and viewing parties centered around the New Horizons mission.

Though Pluto certainly stole the show, it wasn’t the only item on the spacecraft’s agenda.


A NASA probe is revealing new details about Pluto that are exciting people worldwide, particularly astronomers like Angela Speck at the University of Missouri.

One of the images sent from Pluto to NASA by the New Horizon spacecraft