Author Topic: Pluto’s Portrait From New Horizons: Ice Mountains and No Craters  (Read 2685 times)

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Offline Riney

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Pluto's Portrait From New Horizons: Ice Mountains and No Craters

Kenneth Change
New York Times
July 15 2015


New close-up images of a region near Pluto’s equator reveal a giant surprise: a range of youthful mountains.
Photo: NASA



LAUREL, Md. — The first close-up image of Pluto has revealed mountains as tall as the Rockies, and an absence of craters — discoveries that, to their delight, baffled scientists working on NASA’s New Horizons mission and provided punctuation for a journey nine and a half years in the making.

Only 112 years after the Wright Brothers were barely able to get their airplane off the ground, a machine from Earth has crossed the solar system to a small, icy world three billion miles away. The flyby on Tuesday, when New Horizons buzzed within 7,800 miles of the former ninth planet, came 50 years to the day after NASA’s Mariner 4 spacecraft made a similar first pass by Mars.

Pluto until a few weeks ago was a blurry dot. Within the past couple of days, it has been transformed into a dynamic world with varied geography, discoveries that point to the possibility of ice volcanoes and churning tectonics. All of this new information could provide clues to how planets form and even to the origins of some of the building blocks of life.


Photo


A new image of Charon, Pluto’s largest moon.


 The moon has a dark patch, informally called Mordor, at its north pole. CreditNASA“I don’t think any one of us could have imagined that this could have been a better toy store,” S. Alan Stern, the mission’s principal investigator, said during a news conference on Wednesday.

William Grundy, an investigator working to analyze the surface composition of Pluto, chimed in: “This is what we came for.” “This exceeds what we came for,” added Catherine Olkin, the deputy project scientist.
Earlier in the day, New Horizons had sent back the first batch of a bountiful trove of data that it had collected during its close flyby of Pluto. Dr. Stern said the rooms where teams got their first look at the images were “something close to bedlam.”

A day before, NASA had released a mesmerizing image of the full 1,472-mile-wide disc of Pluto, highlighted by a bright heart-shaped swath of terrain. The newer image focused on a much smaller patch, about 150 miles across, near the bottom of the heart shape, and captured features as small as a half-mile across.

The first surprise was the rugged topography — mountains up to 11,000 feet high. But these mountains are almost certainly made of frozen water instead of rock. “There may be higher ones elsewhere,” said John Spencer, an investigator on the mission.

That was a surprise because observations of Pluto from Earth have not found any signs of water ice. Frozen nitrogen and methane have been detected, but those ices are too weak to be bent and lifted into mountains.

New Horizons took measurements that should be able to confirm that the mountains are frozen water, but that data remains on the spacecraft, to stream back over the next year and a half. Dr. Stern, however, had no doubt. “We can be very sure that water is there in great abundance,” he said.

A second surprise was that the dwarf planet’s surface was unmarred by craters.

“We have not yet found a single impact crater in this image,” Dr. Spencer said.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/16/science/pluto-flyby-photos-reveal-mountains.html
« Last Edit: July 18, 2015, 15:46:07 PM by Riney »
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage" Anais Nin .. and yet we must arm ourselves with fear

Offline Riney

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Re: Pluto’s Portrait From New Horizons: Ice Mountains and No Craters
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2015, 15:48:17 PM »
Another photo of Pluto released ...


   

source: https://twitter.com/DepressedDarth/status/622228148843868160



xD
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage" Anais Nin .. and yet we must arm ourselves with fear

Offline Riney

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Re: Pluto’s Portrait From New Horizons: Ice Mountains and No Craters
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2015, 18:10:12 PM »

Portrait of Pluto and Charon   
NASA

source: http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/portrait-of-pluto-and-charon
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage" Anais Nin .. and yet we must arm ourselves with fear

Offline J.C

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Re: Pluto’s Portrait From New Horizons: Ice Mountains and No Craters
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2015, 16:10:45 PM »
amazing is that the mission just begins and it started with a picture of our smallest friend out there.
Assange fears the Pigeon.

https://goo.gl/QjIHja

Offline Riney

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Re: Pluto’s Portrait From New Horizons: Ice Mountains and No Craters
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2015, 16:25:59 PM »
I think we waited 9 years for those pictures... the craft was launched 9 years ago I believe. Amazing to see.
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage" Anais Nin .. and yet we must arm ourselves with fear