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First close-up pictures of Pluto revealed


Posted on Thursday, 16 July, 2015 | Comment icon 96 comments

The latest image of Pluto shows mountains on its surface. Image Credit: NASA
The first ever high resolution images of the surface of Pluto have been unveiled at a press conference.
The tiny distant world of Pluto has finally been revealed in unprecedented detail thanks to the first close up photographs returned by the New Horizons probe following its flyby on Tuesday.

NASA scientists were ecstatic as they announced the impressive images which showed a diverse, mountainous landscape and a surface that seemed conspicuously devoid of craters.

"You can’t make mountains out of methane and nitrogen," said mission scientist John Spencer.

"Water ice is strong enough to hold up big mountains and that’s what we think we’re seeing here. This is the first time we’ve seen this. The methane and nitrogen are just a coating."

One of the most important new discoveries made so far as a result of the pictures is that Pluto appears to be geologically active despite being far away from any of the gas giant planets.

"There is no giant body that can be deforming Pluto on an ongoing regular basis to heat the interior," said mission principal investigator Alan Stern. "So this is telling us you don’t need tidal heating to power [change on icy worlds]. This is a really big discovery that we’ve just made."

Also revealed at the press event was a new image of Pluto's moon Charon which also showed some interesting geology including deep cliffs and troughs indicative of fracturing across its surface.


"Charon just blew our socks off when we had the new image today," said scientist Cathy Olkin. "The team has just been abuzz. There is so much interesting science in this one image alone."

Many more images are expected to be released over the coming days and weeks.

Source: The Guardian | Comments (96)

Tags: Pluto, New Horizons

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #87 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 6 August, 2015, 9:31
It will take more than a year just to download all the images and data from New Horizons, so it is unrealistic to expect answers in days.
Comment icon #88 Posted by Astra- on 6 August, 2015, 9:40
Oh - ok - thanks. Patience is a virtue I suppose.
Comment icon #89 Posted by Merc14 on 6 August, 2015, 12:11
I have been wondering if scientists have figured out yet - what those dark patches/spots were along Pluto's equator ? New Horizons closest flyby was back on 14th July - I have tried to find some info - but my PC is very slow atm - it's like pulling teeth. Does anybody know anything ? Cheers.. Run Malwarebytes free version and get rid of some of the likely malware https://www.malwarebytes.org/mwb-download/
Comment icon #90 Posted by Astra- on 6 August, 2015, 22:57
Thanks heaps Merc. I ran the malware - but no nasties were detected. Seems the signal on the Wi-Fi connection was weak which were slowing things down. So I rebooted the router - and the PC - and I have a stronger signal now
Comment icon #91 Posted by Merc14 on 7 August, 2015, 2:05
Thanks heaps Merc. I ran the malware - but no nasties were detected. Seems the signal on the Wi-Fi connection was weak which were slowing things down. So I rebooted the router - and the PC - and I have a stronger signal now You did exactly what I would've suggested except for one thing, pull the power plugs on both the router and the modem and turn off the computer. Then return power to the modem, let it settle in, then power up the router, let it settle in and then turn the computer back on. PM me if you that doesn't help
Comment icon #92 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 7 August, 2015, 6:46
Can we please get back on topic.This really is not the place to be discussing computer problems (unless the computer happens to be on a space craft ). Thank you.
Comment icon #93 Posted by Merc14 on 7 August, 2015, 12:17
Can we please get back on topic.This really is not the place to be discussing computer problems (unless the computer happens to be on a space craft ). Thank you. My fault.
Comment icon #94 Posted by FTWind on 8 August, 2015, 17:48
Waspie what would u say on the chances of multi celled organisms livng in these theorized subsurface oceans on these outer objects
Comment icon #95 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 8 August, 2015, 18:16
Waspie what would u say on the chances of multi celled organisms livng in these theorized subsurface oceans on these outer objects If the greatest biologists and planetary scientists on Earth don't have the vaguest idea what the answer to that is (and they really don't) then why should an ex-chemist like myself? Anyone that gives you an answer to this is taking a wild guess. Science doesn't deal in wild guesses.
Comment icon #96 Posted by FTWind on 8 August, 2015, 23:55
In all fai rness Waspie I've been readin everyone's comments on every topic for years in this website and of all I repect yours the most


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