Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Spotlight on Space ~ Successful Flyby Proves Pluto's Promise of Surprise!

We have mountains! Icy mountains! Scientists hypothesize that the mountains may be composed of a water-ice bedrock. "At Pluto's temperatures, water-ice behaves more like rock," stated deputy GGI lead Bill McKinnon of Washington University, St. Louis

Pluto may also have a relative young history to the major planets, so the mountains may still be growing. Scientists view Pluto as young because of the lack of craters seen in these first images.

A next question for some of the New Horizon's team is, "What is creating the Plutonian mountside?"
Many of the moons of  Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, our four gas giants, have mountains because of the heat that was caused by the gravitational pull of the giant planet on each of those planets' moons.

A First Look at Charon

Charon is coming into focus! This graphic is actually a compressed picture sent my New Horizons. At a later time we will get the full picture. Some of the smoother areas have been compressed so the picture could be sent in that first short window of time when the spacecraft "phone home." The New Horizons Spacecraft can either take pictures and do experiments, or send information back to Earth, but it cannot do both at the same time. Since New Horizons is still so close to Pluto, the team of scientists operating the spacecraft chose to have very short messages, so more information could be be gathered by the spacecraft while it was/is close to the Pluto system.

And Now for the Teaser:


It is just a glimpse, but it will have to tide us over until the spacecraft has time to send the information back to Earth. Hydra is officially and "irregular" shape that is 27 miles long 20 miles wide. We can infer some kind of land variations because of the bright and dark areas. The darker circular structure is about 6 miles in diameter. Does anyone want to guess what it might be? The photo was taken from 400,000 miles, so there will be more pictures coming with better resolution. We just have to stay tuned.

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