Keyword: pluto

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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Jupiter's Clouds from New Horizons

    06/26/2016 10:54:07 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | Sunday, June 26, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The New Horizons spacecraft took some stunning images of Jupiter on its way out to Pluto. Famous for its Great Red Spot, Jupiter is also known for its regular, equatorial cloud bands, visible through even modest sized telescopes. The featured image, horizontally compressed, was taken in 2007 near Jupiter's terminator and shows the Jovian giant's wide diversity of cloud patterns. On the far left are clouds closest to Jupiter's South Pole. Here turbulent whirlpools and swirls are seen in a dark region, dubbed a belt, that rings the planet. Even light colored regions, called zones, show tremendous structure, complete...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Sputnik Planum vs. Krun Macula

    06/18/2016 12:30:40 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | Saturday, June 18, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Pluto's pitted plains meet rugged highlands in this stunning view. On the left lies a southeastern extent of the bright region still informally known as Sputnik Planum. At right the edge of a dark region, informally Krun Macula, rises some 2.5 kilometers above the icy plains. Along the boundary, connected clusters of large pits form deep valleys, some over 40 kilometers long with shadowy floors. Nitrogen ice is likely responsible for the more reflective plains. The dark red color of the highlands is thought to be from complex compounds called tholins, a product of ultraviolet light induced chemical reactions...
  • Vanity: RoKu users, a new 'channel' has appeared

    06/11/2016 6:58:15 AM PDT · by V K Lee · 29 replies
    Vanity: RoKu users, a new 'channel' has appeared titled "PLUTO" which features a number of substation channels containing news, old movies, children's cartoons (Betty Boop; a short lived tv series, The Invisible Man; classic drive in movie channel. Competition on the air waves
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Pluto at Night

    06/09/2016 2:44:32 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | Thursday, June 09, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The night side of Pluto spans this shadowy scene. The spacebased view with the Sun behind the distant world was captured by New Horizons last July. The spacecraft was at a range of over 21,000 kilometers, about 19 minutes after its closest approach. A denizen of the Kuiper Belt in dramatic silhouette, the image also reveals Pluto's tenuous, surprisingly complex layers of hazy atmosphere. The crescent twilight landscape near the top of the frame includes southern areas of nitrogen ice plains informally known as Sputnik Planum and rugged mountains of water-ice in the Norgay Montes.
  • Pluto's Moon Coated in Nearly Pure Water Ice

    05/09/2016 11:57:59 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 29 replies
    Discovered in June 2005, Pluto’s outermost moon Hydra is thought to have formed four billion years ago during a massive impact event that created Pluto and Charon. Despite its age, this 31-mile-wide moon appeared remarkably clean and bright in New Horizons images during the spacecraft’s historic close pass through the Pluto system in July 2015. Scientists’ initial speculation was proved right when data from the spacecraft was analyzed and revealed that Hydra, like its name [??], is covered in nearly pure water ice. Measured with the Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA) on New Horizons’ Ralph instrument, the spectral signature...
  • New Horizons sets sights on its next target, a mysterious object at solar system's edge

    05/06/2016 6:37:23 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 10 replies
    Known as 2014 MU69, the object is thought to be unchanged since the birth of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago.... ... Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel submitted plans last month to NASA to fly past the relatively tiny chunk of icy matter on New Year's Day 2019. If NASA approves it, the extended New Horizon mission could give a close-up view of what has so far only appeared to scientists as a faint dot of light. ... The object is in a 300-year orbit around the sun in the Kuiper Belt, a region of space beyond...
  • Scientists Assemble Fresh Global Map of Pluto Comprising Sharpest Flyby Images

    05/04/2016 11:33:33 AM PDT · by LibWhacker · 8 replies
    Universe Today ^ | 5/1/16 | Ken Kremer
    The science team leading NASA’s New Horizons mission that unveiled the true nature of Pluto’s long hidden looks during the history making maiden close encounter last July, have published a fresh global map that offers the sharpest and most spectacular glimpse yet of the mysterious, icy world. The newly updated global Pluto map is comprised of all the highest resolution images transmitted back to Earth thus far and provides the best perspective to date. Click on the lead image above to enjoy Pluto revealed at its finest thus far. Click on this link to view the highest resolution version. Prior...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Moon over Makemake

    04/30/2016 2:03:40 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | Saturday, April 30, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Makemake, second brightest dwarf planet of the Kuiper belt, has a moon. Nicknamed MK2, Makemake's moon reflects sunlight with a charcoal-dark surface, about 1,300 times fainter than its parent body. Still, it was spotted in Hubble Space Telescope observations intended to search for faint companions with the same technique used to find the small satellites of Pluto. Just as for Pluto and its satellites, further observations of Makemake and orbiting moon will measure the system's mass and density and allow a broader understanding of the distant worlds. About 160 kilometers (100 miles) across compared to Makemake's 1,400 kilometer diameter,...
  • Planet Nine's profile fleshed out

    04/09/2016 7:29:13 PM PDT · by JimSEA · 52 replies
    BBC ^ | 4/8/2916 | Paul Rincon
    In January, researchers at Caltech in the US suggested a large, additional planet might be lurking in the icy outer reaches of the Solar System. Now, a team at the University of Bern in Switzerland has worked out what they say are upper and lower limits on how big, bright and cold it might be. The study has been accepted by the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics. Prof Mike Brown and Dr Konstantin Batygin made their case for the existence of a ninth planet in our Solar System orbiting far beyond even the dwarf world Pluto. There are no direct observations...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Pluto's Bladed Terrain in 3D

    04/02/2016 12:31:05 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | Saturday, April 02, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Get out your red/blue glasses and gaze across a mountainous region informally known as Tartarus Dorsa. This scene sprawls some 300 kilometers (about 180 miles) across the Plutonian landscape. The color anaglyph creates a stereo view by combining parts of two images taken about 14 minutes apart during the New Horizons historic flyby of Pluto last July. Along with shadows near the terminator, or line between Pluto's dim day and night, the 3D perspective emphasizes the alignment of narrow, steep ridges. The region's remarkable bladed landforms typically extend 500 meters high and are 3 to 5 kilometers apart. Referring...
  • Ice volcanoes spotted on Pluto, suggest internal heat source

    03/18/2016 11:32:38 PM PDT · by MtnClimber · 41 replies
    Science.com ^ | 9 Nov, 2015 | Eric Hand
    NATIONAL HARBOR, MARYLAND—Researchers on NASA’s New Horizons mission have discovered evidence on Pluto for what appears to be two cryovolcanoes—volcanoes built out of frozen ice that once oozed molten ice from the inside of the dwarf planet. The discovery points to an internal heat source that, at some point in Pluto’s past, drove the melting of interior reservoirs of volatile ices, such as nitrogen and methane, that then erupted at the surface. It also suggests that the cryovolcanoes were a way for Pluto to periodically rejuvenate surface supplies of these volatile ices, which sublimate into the thin atmosphere and are...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Northern Pluto

    02/26/2016 11:56:50 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    NASA ^ | February 27, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Gaze across the frozen canyons of northern Pluto in this contrast enhanced color scene, imaged last July by the New Horizons spacecraft. Currently known as Lowell Regio, the region has been informally named for Percival Lowell, founder of the Lowell Observatory. Also famous for his speculation that there were canals on Mars, in 1906 Lowell started the search that ultimately led to Pluto's discovery. Pluto's North Pole itself is above and left of center in the the frame. The pale bluish floor of the broad canyon on the left is about 70 kilometers (45 miles) wide, running vertically toward...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Flying Over Pluto's Moon Charon

    02/22/2016 9:03:11 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | February 22, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Given some poetic license, there is now scientific evidence that hell has frozen over. To start, Greek mythology holds that Charon is the ferryman of the underworld. Next, recent analysis of data taken by the robotic New Horizons spacecraft that shot past Charon -- the namesake that is the largest moon of Pluto -- in July now indicates that the cause of the huge chasm that runs across the 1200-km moon was that a huge internal sea froze. And since water expands when it freezes, the already hardened outer crust could not contain it and cracked. To better picture...
  • Pluto’s Mysterious, Floating Hills

    02/05/2016 7:38:13 PM PST · by MtnClimber · 22 replies
    NASA ^ | 4 Feb, 2016 | NASA
    The nitrogen ice glaciers on Pluto appear to carry an intriguing cargo: numerous, isolated hills that may be fragments of water ice from Pluto's surrounding uplands. These hills individually measure one to several miles or kilometers across, according to images and data from NASA's New Horizons mission. The hills, which are in the vast ice plain informally named Sputnik Planum within Pluto's 'heart,' are likely miniature versions of the larger, jumbled mountains on Sputnik Planum's western border. They are yet another example of Pluto's fascinating and abundant geological activity. Because water ice is less dense than nitrogen-dominated ice, scientists believe...
  • Pluto is covered in a lot of frozen water

    01/30/2016 6:05:47 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 22 replies
    CNN ^ | Jareen Imam,
    Pluto has way more frozen water than scientists originally thought. The dwarf planet is coated with a large amount of ice, according to a new map using previously collected data from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft. This map is more sensitive than an earlier version that was created using data by New Horizons' historic fly by in 2015. The previous map was at a disadvantage because water ice can be easily masked by frozen methane. So it only showed areas with an especially large amount of frozen water. A new method, which involved NASA stitching together two infrared images captured by...
  • There's a ninth planet in our solar system - we just can't see it yet, study says

    01/20/2016 1:43:51 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 39 replies
    l a times ^ | 01/20/2016 | amina khan
    Scientists have been wondering whether a "Planet X" exists in the dim regions far beyond the known planets, but it has remained largely speculative.... That started to change in March 2014, when a pair of astronomers announced that they’d discovered a brand-new dwarf planet, 2012 VP113, beyond the well-populated edge of the Kuiper belt, whose main mass stretches from Neptune’s orbit around 30 astronomical units (or 30 times the Earth-Sun distance) out to 50 astronomical units. It wasn’t the only such object: Sedna, a 600-mile-wide rock discovered in 2003, also boasted this far-out orbit, and it seemed to be making...
  • Researchers find evidence of a real ninth planet

    01/20/2016 7:52:49 PM PST · by Utilizer · 31 replies
    Phys.org ^ | January 20, 2016 | Kimm Fesenmaier
    Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun. The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet's existence through mathematical modeling...
  • Ninth Planet May Exist in Solar System Beyond Pluto, New Evidence Suggests

    01/20/2016 12:01:57 PM PST · by presidio9 · 50 replies
    The New York Times ^ | JAN. 20, 2016 | KENNETH CHANG
    There might be a ninth planet in the solar system after all - and it is not Pluto. Two astronomers reported on Wednesday that they had compelling signs of something bigger and farther away — something that would definitely satisfy the current definition of a planet, where Pluto falls short. "We are pretty sure there's one out there," said Michael E. Brown, a professor of planetary astronomy at the California Institute of Technology. What Dr. Brown and a fellow Caltech professor, Konstantin Batygin, have not done is actually find that planet, so it would be premature to revise mnemonics of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Wright Mons in Color

    01/16/2016 7:46:44 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | January 15, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Informally named Wright Mons, a broad mountain about 150 kilometers across and 4 kilometers high with a wide, deep summit depression is featured in this inset image captured during the New Horizons flyby of Pluto in July 2015. Of course, broad mountains with summit craters are found elsewhere in the Solar System, like the large shield volcano Mauna Loa on planet Earth or giant Olympus Mons on Mars. New Horizons scientists note the striking similarity of Pluto's Wright Mons, and nearby Piccard Mons, to large shield volcanoes suggests the two could be giant cryovolcanoes that once erupted molten ice...
  • “X” Marks the Spot of Convective Churning on Hot Pluto

    01/09/2016 4:45:38 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 18 replies
    universe today ^ | 01/08/2016 | Ken Kremer
    X marks the spot that's illustrative of "convective churning" resulting from subsurface planetary heating, as seen in a fascinating new super high resolution image received from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 2015. Its situated at the very center of the left ventricle of Pluto's huge "heart" - an icy flow plain that's informally named "Sputnik Planum." The "X" feature - see image above - is located in an area of intersecting cells, shaped like polygons, on the plains of "Sputnik Planum" which are mostly comprised of frozen nitrogen ices. So what's really piqued the interest of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Pluto: From Mountains to Plains

    12/15/2015 1:22:06 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 33 replies
    NASA ^ | December 14, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What do the sharpest views ever of Pluto show? As the robotic New Horizons spacecraft moves into the outer Solar System, it is now sending back some of the highest resolution images from its historic encounter with Pluto in July. Featured here is one recently-received, high-resolution image. On the left is al-Idrisi Montes, mountainous highlands thought composed primarily of blocks of water ice. A sharp transitional shoreline leads to the ice plains, on the right, that compose part of the heart-shaped feature known as Sputnik Planum, which contains ices including solid nitrogen. Why the plains are textured with ice...
  • NASA releases clearest images of Pluto world might see for decades

    12/05/2015 9:35:51 AM PST · by BenLurkin · 20 replies
    cnn ^ | Hilary Whiteman, CNN
    Black and white images beamed to Earth could be some of the clearest close-ups of Pluto's surface humans see for decades, NASA says. The images, taken by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, show craters, mountains and glacial terrain along a strip 50 miles (80 kilometers) wide. The spacecraft took them in July during its closest flyby of Pluto - which is at a distance from Earth that varies from 4.67 billion miles (7.5 billion kilometers) to 2.66 billion miles (4.28 billion kilometers) - and they were among the most recent batch sent to back to our planet.
  • Pluto's Craterless Plains Look Young

    11/30/2015 12:31:32 PM PST · by fishtank · 23 replies
    Institute for Creation Research ^ | Dec. 2015 | Brian Thomas
    Pluto's Craterless Plains Look Young by Brian Thomas, M.S. * Resources › Physical Sciences Resources › Astronomy Earlier this year, New Horizons flew past dwarf planet Pluto and its sister Charon, rapidly capturing data. That information continues to trickle in, revealing a surprisingly smooth heart-shaped plain called "Tombaugh Regio." The countless craters expected from billions of years' worth of impacts are nowhere to be found. Tombaugh Regio is centered just north of Pluto's equator and contains a western lobe called "Sputnik Planum." After thorough data scouring, researchers found zero craters on Sputnik Planum.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Unusual Pits Discovered on Pluto

    11/26/2015 9:18:56 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 37 replies
    NASA ^ | November 25, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why are there unusual pits on Pluto? The indentations were discovered during the New Horizons spacecraft's flyby of the dwarf planet in July. The largest pits span a kilometer across and dip tens of meters into a lake of frozen nitrogen, a lake that sprawls across Sputnik Planum, part of the famous light-colored heart-shaped region named Tombaugh Regio. Although most pits in the Solar System are created by impact craters, these depressions look different -- many are similarly sized, densely packed, and aligned. Rather, it is thought that something has caused these specific areas of ice to sublimate and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Gegenschein Lunar Eclipse

    11/14/2015 12:50:55 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | November 14, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Is there anything interesting to see in the direction opposite the Sun? One night last month, there were quite a few things. First, the red-glowing orb on the lower right of the featured image is the full moon, darkened and reddened because it has entered Earth's shadow. Beyond Earth's cone of darkness are backscattering dust particles orbiting the Sun that standout with a diffuse glow called the gegenschein, visible as a faint band rising from the central horizon and passing behind the Moon. A nearly horizontal stripe of green airglow is also discernable just above the horizon, partly blocked...
  • Mountains on Pluto believed to be ice volcanoes, scientists say

    11/10/2015 4:41:49 PM PST · by NormsRevenge · 5 replies
    Reuters on Yahoo News ^ | 11/9/15 | Irene Klotz
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Scientists have discovered what appear to be ice-spewing volcanoes on the surface of Pluto, raising questions about how the tiny, distant world has been so geologically active, according to research presented on Monday. The findings, released at an American Astronomical Society meeting in National Harbor, Maryland, paint a far more complicated picture of Pluto and its moons than scientists imagined. "The Pluto system is baffling us," planetary scientist Alan Stern, with the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, told reporters during a webcast news conference. Stern heads the team working on NASA's New Horizons spacecraft,...
  • Why Earth is so much bigger than Mars: Rocky planets formed from 'pebbles'

    10/27/2015 11:47:58 AM PDT · by JimSEA · 9 replies
    Science Daily ^ | 10/27/2015 | Southwest Research Institute
    Using a new process in planetary formation modeling, where planets grow from tiny bodies called "pebbles," Southwest Research Institute scientists can explain why Mars is so much smaller than Earth. This same process also explains the rapid formation of the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn, as reported earlier this year. "This numerical simulation actually reproduces the structure of the inner solar system, with Earth, Venus, and a smaller Mars," said Hal Levison, an Institute scientist at the SwRI Planetary Science Directorate. He is the first author of a new paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences...
  • Two more planets in our Solar System, say astronomers

    01/20/2015 8:54:04 AM PST · by Red Badger · 51 replies
    www.businessinsider.com ^ | Jan. 19, 2015, 8:40 AM | Richard INGHAM, AFP
    Paris (AFP) - The Solar System has at least two more planets waiting to be discovered beyond the orbit of Pluto, Spanish and British astronomers say. The official list of planets in our star system runs to eight, with gas giant Neptune the outermost. Beyond Neptune, Pluto was relegated to the status of "dwarf planet" by the International Astronomical Union in 2006, although it is still championed by some as the most distant planet from the Sun. In a study published in the latest issue of the British journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, researchers propose that "at...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Charon and the Small Moons of Pluto

    10/27/2015 3:43:51 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | October 26, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What do the moons of Pluto look like? Before a decade ago, only the largest moon Charon was known, but never imaged. As the robotic New Horizons spacecraft was prepared and launched, other moons were identified on Hubble images but remained only specks of light. Finally, this past summer, New Horizons swept right past Pluto, photographed Pluto and Charon in detail, and took the best images of Styx, Nix, Kerberos, and Hydra that it could. The featured image composite shows the results -- each moon is seen to have a distinct shape, while underlying complexity is only hinted. Even...
  • New Horizons aiming toward next target [Kuiper Belt 2014 MU69]

    10/25/2015 6:30:08 PM PDT · by markomalley · 4 replies
    Earthsky ^ | 10/25/15
    The fast-moving New Horizons spacecraft is now approximately 74 million miles (119 million km) beyond the Pluto system, which it swept through in July. Today (October 25, 2015), the spacecraft is carrying out the second in a series of four initial targeting maneuvers ultimately designed to send it toward its next target – a small body in the Kuiper Belt about a billion miles beyond Pluto – called 2014 MU69. NASA said: The four planned maneuvers will change New Horizons’ trajectory by approximately 57 meters per second, nudging it toward a prospective close encounter with MU69 on January 1, 2019....
  • New Horizons reveals Pluto's striking surface variations and unique moon rotations

    10/16/2015 8:43:36 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 24 replies
    http://phys.org ^ | October 15, 2015 | Provided by: University of Maryland / NASA
    This portrait of Pluto is in enhanced color, to illustrate differences in the composition and texture of Pluto's surface. Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI ************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************ University of Maryland astronomers Silvia Protopapa and Douglas Hamilton are among the authors of the first published paper from the New Horizons flyby, which appears in the Oct. 16, 2015 issue of the journal Science. Protopapa helped map the composition of Pluto's surface and locate ices on it. Hamilton helped confirm the shapes, sizes and unique rotations of two of Pluto's moons and the finding that no other moons appear to orbit Pluto. The findings will help scientists...
  • ICE ON PLUTO: Now frozen water and BLUE SKY found on dwarf planet giving more hope of life

    10/08/2015 11:20:25 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 76 replies
    www.express.co.uk ^ | UBLISHED: 16:40, Thu, Oct 8, 2015 | UPDATED: 18:01, Thu, Oct 8, 2015 | By Jon Austin
    NASA has discovered frozen water and earth-like blue skies on Pluto in another historic development in the search for extraterrestrial life. Just 10 days after confirming that liquid water has been found on Mars, the US space agency revealed the amazing dwarf-planet has both ice and a 'gorgeous' blue sky. A Nasa spokesman said: "New Horizons has detected numerous small, exposed regions of water ice on Pluto. "The discovery was made from data collected by the Ralph spectral composition mapper on New Horizons." There has been repeated speculation Pluto may have a liquid sea under its surface, and confirmation of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Flying Past Pluto

    10/06/2015 1:16:13 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | October 06, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What would it look like to fly past Pluto? The robotic New Horizons spacecraft did just this in late July and continues to return stunning pictures of the dwarf planet. Some well-chosen flyby images have now been digitally sequenced to create the featured video. The animation begins by showing New Horizon's approach to the Pluto system, with Pluto and its largest moon Charon orbiting a common center of mass. As the spacecraft bears down on Pluto uniquely, surprising surface features are nearly resolved that, unfortunately, quickly rotate out of view. New Horizons then passes just above and near a...
  • New NASA images show Pluto’s moon Charon in stunning detail

    10/03/2015 7:42:02 PM PDT · by ETL · 64 replies
    FoxNews.com - Science ^ | October 03, 2015
    NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has sent incredible images of Pluto’s largest moon Charon back to Earth. The latest images reveal the moon’s complex and violent history, according to NASA. “Many New Horizons scientists expected Charon to be a monotonous, crater-battered world; instead, they’re finding a landscape covered with mountains, canyons, landslides, surface-color variations and more,” explained the space agency, in a statement. The high-resolution images, which were taken on July 14 and transmitted to Earth on Sept. 21, reveal a belt of fractures and canyons just north of the moon’s equator. Four times as long as the Grand Canyon, and...
  • Charon: Moon of Pluto

    10/02/2015 2:30:58 AM PDT · by lbryce · 7 replies
    APOD ^ | October 2, 2015 | NASA
    Charon: Moon of Pluto A darkened and mysterious north polar region informally known as Mordor Macula caps this premier high-resolution portrait of Charon, Pluto's largest moon. Captured by New Horizons near its closest approach on July 14, the image data was transmitted to Earth on September 21. The combined blue, red, and infrared data is processed to enhance colors, following variations in surface properties with a resolution of about 2.9 kilometers (1.8 miles). In fact, Charon is 1,214 kilometers (754 miles) across, about 1/10th the size of planet Earth but a whopping 1/2 the diameter of Pluto itself. That makes...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Charon: Moon of Pluto

    10/01/2015 9:50:07 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | October 02, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A darkened and mysterious north polar region informally known as Mordor Macula caps this premier high-resolution portrait of Charon, Pluto's largest moon. Captured by New Horizons near its closest approach on July 14, the image data was transmitted to Earth on September 21. The combined blue, red, and infrared data is processed to enhance colors, following variations in surface properties with a resolution of about 2.9 kilometers (1.8 miles). In fact, Charon is 1,214 kilometers (754 miles) across, about 1/10th the size of planet Earth but a whopping 1/2 the diameter of Pluto itself. That makes it the largest...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Pluto's Snakeskin Terrain

    09/25/2015 12:15:25 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 38 replies
    NASA ^ | September 25, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Image Credit: Explanation: A mountainous region informally known as Tartarus Dorsa sprawls some 530 kilometers (330 miles) across this Plutonian landscape. Recently downloaded from New Horizons, it combines blue, red, and infrared image data in an extended color view captured near the spacecraft's close approach to Pluto on July 14. Shadows near the terminator, the line between Pluto's dim day and night, emphasize a rough, scaly texture. The stunning image resolves details on the distant world about 1.3 kilometers (0.8 miles) across. Refering to a part of Hades in ancient Greek mythology, Tartarus Dorsa borders Tombaugh Regio to the...
  • Finally, Pluto In Real Color View

    09/24/2015 2:52:42 PM PDT · by lbryce · 64 replies
    Friends of NASA ^ | September 22m 2015 | Staff
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Plutonian Landscape

    09/18/2015 3:40:49 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | September 18, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This shadowy landscape of majestic mountains and icy plains stretches toward the horizon of a small, distant world. It was captured from a range of about 18,000 kilometers when New Horizons looked back toward Pluto, 15 minutes after the spacecraft's closest approach on July 14. The dramatic, low-angle, near-twilight scene follows rugged mountains still popularly known as Norgay Montes from foreground left, and Hillary Montes along the horizon, giving way to smooth Sputnik Planum at right. Layers of Pluto's tenuous atmosphere are also revealed in the backlit view. With a strangely familiar appearance, the frigid terrain likely includes ices...
  • New Pluto photo.. Majestic Mountains and Frozen Plains (Wow!)

    09/17/2015 5:26:37 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 63 replies
    John Hopkins ^ | 9/17/15
    Just 15 minutes after its closest approach to Pluto on July 14, 2015, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft looked back toward the sun and captured a near-sunset view of the rugged, icy mountains and flat ice plains extending to Pluto's horizon. The smooth expanse of the informally named Sputnik Planum (right) is flanked to the west (left) by rugged mountains up to 11,000 feet (3,500 meters) high, including the informally named Norgay Montes in the foreground and Hillary Montes on the skyline. The backlighting highlights more than a dozen layers of haze in Pluto's tenuous but distended atmosphere. The image...
  • Latest Images from Pluto: 'It's Complicated,' Says NASA

    09/15/2015 7:38:43 AM PDT · by Enlightened1 · 17 replies
    http://mentalfloss.com ^ | September 11, 2015 | Jen Pikowski
    The New Horizons probe has sent back the latest images from its historic July 14 flyby of Pluto. While the first close-up photos of the dwarf planet, taken from 7800 miles above the surface, had the New Horizons team—and people around the world—giddy with excitement about intriguing features like 11,000-foot-tall ice mountains, the latest, downlinked over Labor Day weekend, have left them scratching their heads. "If an artist had painted this Pluto before our flyby, I probably would have called it over the top—but that’s what is actually there," said New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Pluto from above Cthulhu Regio

    09/14/2015 3:42:08 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | September 14, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: New high resolution images of Pluto are starting to arrive from the outer Solar System. The robotic New Horizons spacecraft, which zoomed by Pluto in July, has finished sending back some needed engineering data and is now transmitting selections from its tremendous storehouse of images of Pluto and its moons. The featured image, a digital composite, details a surprising terrain filled with craters, plains, landscape of unknown character, and landforms that resemble something on Earth but are quite unexpected on Pluto. The light area sprawling across the upper right has been dubbed Sputnik Planum and is being studied for...
  • New Pluto Images Show Possible Dunes, Crepuscular Rays, Unimaginable Complexity

    09/10/2015 4:53:58 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 38 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on September 10, 2015 | Nancy Atkinson
    “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, a GGI deputy lead from Washington University, St. Louis. “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.” Plus, a new view of Pluto’s hazy backlit atmosphere shows what are likely crepuscular rays — shadows cast on the haze by topography such as mountain ranges on Pluto, similar to the rays sometimes seen in the sky after the sun sets...
  • AWESOME!New Pluto photos reveal features that 'rival anything we've seen in the solar system'

    09/10/2015 4:51:27 PM PDT · by lbryce · 26 replies
    Business Insider ^ | September 10, 2014 | Jessica Owing
    NASA just released the latest photos of Pluto, and they reveal more complex features and diversity on the surface than scientists could have ever hoped to imagine. Here's one of the newest photos that shows the heart-shaped feature, informally named Tombaugh Regio, in the upper-right portion of the dwarf planet: The dwarf planet Pluto might be 4.6 billion miles from Earth, but last July NASA flew its New Horizons spacecraft to get a better look at just 7,800 miles above the Plutonian surface — about 500,000 times closer than Earth. And some of the first photos it snapped and...
  • New Horizons: River of Data Commences (95% of Pluto data still to come)

    09/08/2015 4:16:42 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 5 replies
    Centauri Dreams ^ | 9/8/15 | Paul Gilster
    New Horizons: River of Data Commences by Paul Gilster on September 8, 2015 Hard to believe it’s been 55 days since the New Horizons flyby. When the event occurred, I was in my daughter’s comfortable beach house working at a table in the living room, a laptop in front of me monitoring numerous feeds. My grandson, sitting to my right with his machine, was tracking social media on the event and downloading images. When I was Buzzy’s age that day, Scott Carpenter’s Mercury flight was in the works, and with all of Gemini and Apollo ahead, I remember the raw...
  • Is there a Planet X, a ‘massive perturber,’ hidden beyond Pluto?

    09/05/2015 7:46:28 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 32 replies
    Washington Post ^ | September 3 | Joel Achenbach
    The paper ... noted that a number of large, very remote objects share a similar orbital angle. That's suspicious if you're an astronomer expecting to see a random distribution of objects. The key orbital feature is known, rather obtusely, as the “argument of perihelion.” We're not shy of complicated orbital concepts (we try to toss around the phrase "obliquity of the ecliptic" whenever possible), but this one is not very easy to explain. "The argument of perihelion is the angle at which an object comes to perihelion with respect to the ecliptic plane," Sheppard said in an e-mail. Mike Brown,...
  • Pluto’s Moon Nix

    09/03/2015 2:33:43 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 8 replies
    Universe Today ^ | on September 3, 2015 | Matt Williams
    In accordance with IAU guidelines concerning the naming of satellites in the Solar System, the moon was named Nix. Derived from Greek mythology, Nix is the goddess of darkness and night, the mother of Charon and the ferryman of Hades (the Greek equivalent of Pluto) who brought the souls of the dead to the underworld. The name was officially announced on June 21st, 2006, in an IAU Circular, where the designation “Pluto II” is also given. The initials N and H (for Nix and Hydra) were also a deliberate reference to the New Horizons mission, which would be conducting a...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Pluto in Enhanced Color

    08/30/2015 9:58:29 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 36 replies
    NASA ^ | August 31, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Pluto is more colorful than we can see. Color data and images of our Solar System's most famous dwarf planet, taken by the robotic New Horizons spacecraft during its flyby in July, have been digitally combined to give an enhanced view of this ancient world sporting an unexpectedly young surface. The featured enhanced color image is not only esthetically pretty but scientifically useful, making surface regions of differing chemical composition visually distinct. For example, the light-colored heart-shaped Tombaugh Regio on the lower right is clearly shown here to be divisible into two regions that are geologically different, with the...
  • The Gas (and Ice) Giant Uranus

    08/27/2015 11:24:07 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 49 replies
    Universe Today ^ | Matt Williams
    Uranus, which takes its name from the Greek God of the sky, is a gas giant and the seventh planet from our Sun. It is also the third largest planet in our Solar System, ranking behind Jupiter and Saturn. Like its fellow gas giants, it has many moons, a ring system, and is primarily composed of gases that are believed to surround a solid core. Though it can be seen with the naked eye, the realization that Uranus is a planet was a relatively recent one. Though there are indications that it was spotted several times over the course of...
  • 16 Seconds Of Pluto Hides A Surprise (Video)

    08/19/2015 11:44:33 AM PDT · by Citizen Zed · 25 replies
    Area Voices ^ | 8-19-2015 | Astro Bob
    Buddy, can you spare 16 seconds? Bjorn Jonsson, a 3D computer graphics expert, used publicly available photos on the New Horizon’s website to create a zippy flyby of Pluto that gets you in and out in just seconds. But hold on! If you use the pause button, you’ll see something amazing — Pluto’s dark backside illuminated by sunlight reflecting off its largest moon Charon. Even at Pluto’s enormous distance from the sun of over 3 billion miles, enough sunlight falls on its 750-mile-wide moon Charon to provide a faint illumination on one hemisphere of the dwarf planet. The ring you see around Pluto...