Cloisters of Saint John Lateran, Rome. Source:

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Pluto. " No, No, No. That's The Wrong One !!! "

" No, No, No. That's The Wrong One !!! "
Image of the character known as Pluto.
Portion Used: Entire character.
Low Resolution ? Yes.

The Dwarf Planet Pluto.
A colour image of "Sputnik Planum", the region known as Pluto's "heart,"
which is rich in nitrogen, carbon monoxide and methane ices.
Photo Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute.
Text and Illustration: THE NEW YORK TIMES

In the year since NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew by Pluto, the dwarf planet has maintained its icy heart.

But closer analysis of the trove of data collected by the space probe reveals intriguing clues to other possible features – including whether Pluto has a sloshing underground ocean of liquid water. And the data has confirmed some ideas like how Pluto and its moons formed.

Scientists have been sifting through the information that has been sent back intermittently since the flyby on 14 July 2015.

“It almost simultaneously seems like forever, and it seems like no time at all,” said S. Alan Stern, the mission’s principal investigator, of the months that have elapsed since the flyby. “We’ve been super busy the whole time.”

Within days of the flyby, data from New Horizons unveiled Pluto’s diverse terrain and surroundings. It was not a bland snowball, but a world covered with strikingly complex icescapes, from plains to soaring mountains. The scientists described signs of active tectonics, a thin but hazy atmosphere, and other perplexing features.

An artist’s rendering of one possible version of The Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69,
the next flyby target for NASA’s New Horizons mission.
Photo Credit: Alex Parker, via NASA,
Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and Southwest Research Institute.
Illustration: THE NEW YORK TIMES

“It’s much more complex than people, ourselves as experts included, expected,” Dr. Stern said. “It rivals Mars.”

For the most part, the first impressions have have held up. Dr. Stern cited 40 scientific papers, hundreds of hours of teleconferences among the scientists, and 200 scientific talks. “We’ve added a lot of detail,” he said.

The story of Pluto is still largely a story of ice.

A rendering of another possible version of the object.
Photo Credit: Alex Parker, via NASA,
Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and Southwest Research Institute.
Illustration: THE NEW YORK TIMES

On Earth, the only ice is frozen water. On Pluto, nitrogen, methane and carbon monoxide also freeze solid.

The most striking feature that NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft saw when it flew past Pluto last July was a heart-shaped region now named Tombaugh Regio after Clyde Tombaugh, the discoverer of Pluto.

The left half is covered by mostly nitrogen snow; the right side is more methane ice.

This Article is taken from, and can be read in full at, THE NEW YORK TIMES

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