New Horizon offers new outlook on Pluto

And I didn’t. The “tail” is made up of nitrogen that is escaping the atmosphere of Pluto at a rate of 500 tons per hour. It is fitting that this encounter is happening 50 years after the Mariner probe’s historic Mars flyby.


Throughout the 1990s, it was pretty obvious who the enthusiastic contributors to Pluto science were, and we naturally congregated at scientific meetings to speculate about a mission to the ninth planet.

The New Horizons Particles and Plasma team discovered a region of cold, dense ionized gas tens of thousands of miles beyond Pluto – the atmosphere being stripped away by solar wind, Nasa states. The photos that NASA will release on Tuesday will, undoubtedly, reveal even more surprises about Pluto and its moons. “You’re not just going to a planet“.

Ginita Jimenez, who years later directed a documentary on Mrs Phair’s life, Naming Pluto, said: “Pluto was the most obvious choice, but it took an 11-year-old to think of it”. I focused on the planet’s chemistry.

So, naturally, when New Horizons reached Pluto at long last and close-ups of this orb at the edge of our cosmic neighborhood started pouring in, many got emotional.

In the game’s latest newsletter, there’s a special section covering New Horizons and its effect on Elite’s representation of Pluto (and its largest moon, Charon).

My main interest is understanding the chemistry and stability of Pluto’s atmosphere. For that we spent nine years and $700 million to travel three billion miles? But apparently it hasn’t.

You’ll notice Pluto and Charon look a little different in Elite: unsafe, though we’re pleased by how closely our simulation has matched the “smooth” heart-shaped area on Pluto.

The Kuiper belt sometimes called the Edgeworth-Kuiper belt, is a region of the Solar System beyond the planets, extending from the orbit of Neptune. They are generally known as “tholins” – a generic term to describe this reddish material. We guessed how long it would take to die if we stood on the surface of such a frozen place wearing only the clothes we had on. The science team meetings were always interesting and animated, and at every step our conversations were laced with wild speculation about Pluto.

“This is one of the youngest surfaces we’ve ever seen in the solar system,” said Jeff Moore of the New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging Team (GGI) at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. And that challenge continues to complicate interpreting the observations that are rolling in right now. Mission scientists will learn more about these mysterious terrains from higher-resolution and stereo images that New Horizons will pull from its digital recorders and send back to Earth during the next year.

But that changed last fall, when I discovered how much I love astronomy. People were drawn to Pluto’s mysteries and each new revelation seemed to captivate more of their interest. Once the data is analysed, the scientists could make an accurate measurement of the dwarf planet’s size: 2,370 kilometres (1,473 miles) in diameter, give or take 20 kilometres.


“What you’re seeing is a scene that’s about a total width about 250 miles across – 400 kilometers”, said Alan Stern, New Horizons’ principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute.

Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto in 1930