“They’re ambassadors in the sense that they’re our eyes and ears going places where we as a species can’t go”, Wessen said. She was also the mother of Charyon, the mythological ferrymen that transported the dead who had the misfortune of winding up in Hades.
The images – which are the clearest ever taken of Pluto – showed a surface scarred by deep canyons and volcanic activity.
He also didn’t foresee that there’d be a giant heart shape on the dwarf planet. So, just one black and white picture of Pluto would take over three hours to transmit back to earth.
Unlike other icy moons of giant planets where the terrain is shaped by gravitational interactions with giant objects, on Pluto, the source of heat could be a subsurface ocean kept warm by radioactive decay of potassium in the solar system. It is a dense and cold tail of ionized gas. The Kuiper Belt was recognized in 1992 and astronomers realized that Pluto belonged to it. Whether Pluto is called a planet or not doesn’t matter; $700 million for New Horizons was well spent.
O’Meara says of the many instruments on board the space probe there’s a spectrograph, which breaks light into its constituent colors and can give clues about the chemistry on Pluto, including the ratios of different elements present such as methane and carbon dioxide.
Besides, the orb’s mass is estimated to be merely one-400th that of our planet.
Pluto was formally discovered in 1930, but it was clearly much smaller than Lowell’s hypothesised Planet X.
New Horizons is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
(Photo: REUTERS/Bill Ingalls/NASA/Handout) NASA’s scientists react seeing the spacecraft’s last and sharpest image of Pluto. What the scientists once thought to be just a yellow blob is more than what they have expected, it came to life and it’s a fascinating discovery, according to The Daily Galaxy.
Imagine what it must take to blow the mind of a space scientist.
Launched from Florida almost ten years ago, New Horizons flew within 8,000 miles of Pluto this week. The distance just allows for approximately a kilobit of data per second to be transmitted back to Earth. “In fall 2015, operators will fire the engines aboard New Horizons – at the optimal time to minimize the fuel required to reach the selected target – to begin the journey”, the New Horizons team wrote in a mission timeline report. The latest image of the dwarf planet shows a massive, crater-less plan that must be around 100 million years old.
The photos that NASA will release on Tuesday will, undoubtedly, reveal even more surprises about Pluto and its moons. Now that the probe is barreling past Pluto, NASA researchers are taking advantage of the angle to get some shots of the planet’s dark side and some additional data.