Pluto’s features revealed

Physics Week in Review: July 18, 2015

pluto_xkcd
Tongue-in-cheek “map” of Pluto’s surface. Source: https://xkcd.com/1551/

Pluto-mania struck this week as NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft Finally Completed Its Flyby of Pluto — an event that was a decade in the making, so naturally it dominated science news all over. And the plucky little spacecraft did not disappoint, producing the first-ever photos of Pluto’s surface within the first 24 hours, followed by an extreme close-up the following day. Scientists learned a lot about the dwarf planet this week. For starters, it is bigger and icier than we thought. Per space.io9: “we now know what makes up Pluto’s atmosphere, what makes up its ice cap, and exactly how big it is.” The new data also revealed that Pluto’s heart is broken, which could “mean that one side of the heart is a different geological feature than the other.” And Pluto’s ices may snow down on its nearby moon. The New Ice Mountains of Pluto: Why They’re So Important. Something is heating up the dwarf planet, NASA scientists announced. And that could change our understanding of other rocks in the cosmos.

Continue reading story: Cocktail Party Physics – Scientific American Blogs

Story by Jennifer Ouellette (science writer – Scientific American)

 

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