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Space & Astronomy

Pluto images continue to baffle and intrigue

September 11, 2015 | Comment icon 16 comments



Image showing an icy plain on Pluto known as Sputnik Planum. Image Credit: NASA
Recent photographs from New Horizons have revealed Pluto's surface in more detail than ever before.
Despite predictions that this distant, icy world would be a desolate place with little surface features of note, Pluto has turned out to be one of the most feature-rich bodies in the entire solar system.

"Pluto is showing us a diversity of landforms and complexity of processes that rival anything we’ve seen in the solar system," said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern.

"If an artist had painted this Pluto before our fly-by, I probably would have called it over the top - but that’s what is actually there."

Some of the new photographs have even revealed what look like windswept dunes on its surface.

"Seeing dunes on Pluto – if that is what they are – would be completely wild, because Pluto’s atmosphere today is so thin," said William B McKinnon from Washington University.

"Either Pluto had a thicker atmosphere in the past, or some process we haven’t figured out is at work. It’s a head-scratcher."

Source: The Guardian | Comments (16)



Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #7 Posted by Paranomali 6 years ago
It's so amazing the images that are coming back to us. What a great achievement
Comment icon #8 Posted by Infernal Gnu 6 years ago
It is just so stunning to FINALLY see what Pluto looks like. I have been craving this moment for decades.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Saitung 6 years ago
Yes. These photos are ultra amazing. Think maybe they will promote her back to full-planet status? And what about this, why is it that we have such crystal clear photos of PLUTO. (4.67 billion miles away) While none this clear of our own moon via direct feed?
Comment icon #10 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 6 years ago
Think maybe they will promote her back to full-planet status? Why? Nothing has changed. The reasons why it was demoted to Dwarf Planet are still valid. And what about this, why is it that we have such crystal clear photos of PLUTO. (4.67 billion miles away) While none this clear of our own moon via direct feed? What are you talking about? This is total and utter nonsense We had better, more detailed images of the Moon than this in the 1960's. Since then 100,000's of detailed images have been taken by US, Russian, European, Japanese, Chinese and Indian orbiters. As recently as December 2013 the... [More]
Comment icon #11 Posted by skookum 6 years ago
Crikey it is kicking off in here as usual. I am a Pluto fan, what I would love to see is what the Sun, Jupiter, Earth, etc look like from this distance.
Comment icon #12 Posted by DieChecker 6 years ago
Crikey it is kicking off in here as usual. I am a Pluto fan, what I would love to see is what the Sun, Jupiter, Earth, etc look like from this distance. I'd think that after the New Horizons went past it would have taken many backward facing pics, and if the Sun was in any of those, then surely the Earth would be in the frame also, as at the distance of Pluto, the Earth would seem very close to the Sun. I don't know the current locations of the other planets but I'd suppose many of them will also be in the frame. The Sun might wash most of them out though. Edit: I did find this, which would im... [More]
Comment icon #13 Posted by psyche101 6 years ago
Yes. These photos are ultra amazing. Think maybe they will promote her back to full-planet status? And what about this, why is it that we have such crystal clear photos of PLUTO. (4.67 billion miles away) While none this clear of our own moon via direct feed? What do you mean "Direct feed"? Does not matter I suppose, the pictures of the moon are in incredible detail, I suggest you check out NASA's website. Pluto was made a Dwarf Planet because we discovered more, Astronomers estimate that there are at least 70,000 icy objects, with the same composition as Pluto, that measure 100 km across or m... [More]
Comment icon #14 Posted by Frank Merton 6 years ago
It seems inconsistent to be persnickety about what Pluto may be called, but to continue referring to "Black holes" and "the Big Bang," -- grossly misleading names, but over time I've gotten use to it and figure it is better to correct one bit of misleading nomenclature when you have the chance even though others are so locked in one must just deal with them.
Comment icon #15 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 6 years ago
I'd think that after the New Horizons went past it would have taken many backward facing pics, and if the Sun was in any of those, New Horizons' cameras are extremely sensitive, even at the distance of Pluto pointing them directly at the sun would be a very bad idea. People often have this idea that from Pluto the sun would appear as a bright star, this is not the case, even at that distance it is more than 250 times brighter than a full Moon on Earth. The Sun might wash most of them out though. Almost certainly for the inner planets.
Comment icon #16 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 6 years ago
Pluto ‘Wows’ in Spectacular New Backlit Panorama The latest images from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft have scientists stunned – not only for their breathtaking views of Pluto’s majestic icy mountains, streams of frozen nitrogen and haunting low-lying hazes, but also for their strangely familiar, arctic look.This new view of Pluto’s crescent -- taken by New Horizons’ wide-angle Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC) on July 14 and downlinked to Earth on Sept. 13 -- offers an oblique look across Plutonian landscapes with dramatic backlighting from the sun. It spectacularly highlights ... [More]


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