Wednesday, July 29, 2015

New info about Pluto we didn't know until New Horizon flyby

New info about Pluto we didn't know until New Horizon flyby
1)Pluto is larger than we thought Pluto’s diameter is larger than expected about two-thirds the size of Earth’s moon, giving Pluto a surface area comparable to Russia. The finding is significant because it means the world is less dense than previously thought, indicating that it was composed of more ice and less rock.
2)Parts of Pluto are devoid of craters The distinctive heart-shaped region, named Tombaugh Regio, contains smooth plains without craters. Ancient surfaces in the solar system, such as those on the Moon, are peppered with craters which date from when the planets were formed 4.6 billion years ago. Pluto’s surface was thought to be ancient too but Tombaugh Regio can only be about 100 million years in age, which is young in geological terms.
3)Pluto’s internal heat source is a mystery To smooth away the craters, Pluto needs internal heat to soften or melt the surface. Where this heat comes from is a mystery. Pluto is thought to be too small to generate much radioactive heat, nor is it squeezed by a larger world to generate tidal energy, such as happens between Jupiter and its moons Io and Europa. Yet something is making it geologically active. This is the biggest mystery of the flyby. Resolving it promises to tell us something totally unexpected about planetary geology.Humm I thought I wrote something about this before the flyby,yes I did!!!Just was thinking outside of the box.Just my crazy mind coming up with something.
4)Pluto’s atmosphere is disappearing Radio waves beamed from Earth passed through Pluto’s tenuous atmosphere and were detected by New Horizons. They show that the pressure is just 1/100-thousandths that of Earth’s atmosphere at sea level. This is much lower than expected and could show that the atmosphere is rapidly freezing to the surface as Pluto moves away from the Sun.Plus they think Pluto has lost over 14 feet of its surface during its lifetime.Remember Pluto low gravity and during summertime Pluto's atmosphere is ticker than it was during the flyby.In some ways Pluto behaves like a comet,the comet can lose more than 1/3 of there surface ice during its close approach to the Sun.I bet during summertime on Pluto if you had a space probe nearby you could see the gas coming from Pluto atmosphere
5)Scientists still name things after Lord of the Rings Remember the good ol’days when all main-frame computers were named Gandalf and users were given Tolkeinesque names by the system administrator (who almost certainly looked like Gandalf)? NASA does. As soon as they saw the dark region near the pole of Pluto’s moon Charon, they started calling it Mordor..
6)Pluto has mountains 3.5km high To the south of Tombaugh Regio are mountains that have been termed Norgay Montes, after Tenzing Norgay, who climbed Mount Everest with Edmund Hillary in 1953. Pluto’s mountains are likely not made of rock but of rock-solid water ice. It is presently unknown what geological forces pushed up these jagged peaks, which are comparable to the Rocky Mountains on Earth. A second, lower mountain range on Pluto has been identified and named after Hilary.
7)Pluto’s surface looks like boiling milk The smooth plains of Tombaugh Regio have been called Sputnik Planum, after the first Russian satellite, launched in 1957. Much of these plains are separated into blocks, each about 12 miles wide. They resemble the pattern of convection cells seen in steadily boiling milk. Perhaps they are where heat escaped from the interior of Pluto and temporarily melted the surface before freezing over again, immortalizing the pattern.
8)Pluto’s red color comes from ‘molecular rain’ Images of Pluto’s tenuous atmosphere show haze layers where methane molecules have been broken apart by the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation. Recombining in various ways to form larger, more complicated molecules, these eventually become solid particles called tholins. They fall from the atmosphere onto Pluto’s surface. Being tar-like, the tholins give the surface a reddish-brown color.
9)A little more of my Pluto is like a comet!Pluto has a tail a bit like a comet Pluto is losing an estimated 500 tonnes of nitrogen every hour into space. In comparison, Mars is losing just 1 tonne of gas an hour into space. New Horizons flew through the dwarf planet’s nitrogen tail, which extends for 109,000 kilometers away from Pluto. The tail is sculpted by electrically charged particles from the Sun flowing past Pluto.
10)There will be more surprises to come from Pluto Data is trickling back at a rate that makes even rural broadband look fast. At more than five billion kilometres away, the New Horizons data rate just a few kilobits a second. On Earth, fiberoptic broadband can supply up to 150,000 kilobits per second. The result is that all the data from the flyby will take up to 16 months to download. So prepare for a steady stream of Pluto images and revelations in the months to come.Just think of this the radio power is only 10 watts and they pick up this weak radio wave from 2 billion miles away.That is like try to see a candle from New York and you in LA!Just think of its a xmas gift that keeps on giving!

Monday, July 27, 2015

More Pluto stuff

Stunning new images of Pluto by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft show flowing ices, a complicated surface covered in mountain ranges and a surprisingly far-reaching atmosphere.
At a news conference today (July 24), members of the New Horizons team spoke about the incredible new science being pulled from data collected by the probe, which performed history's first flyby of Pluto on July 14. Among other findings, scientists announced big surprises in the study of Pluto's atmosphere, as well as the discovery of what appear to be flowing fields of ice in Pluto's "heart."Pluto has a very complicated story to tell,There is a lot of work that we need to do to understand this very complicated place.
 Photo show how Pluto looks like if we was there looking at it.
One of the new images released today is a gorgeous global view showing half of Pluto's surface, lit by sunlight, with the heart-shaped region informally known as Tombaugh Regio in the lower-left quadrant. The new image shows features on the surface as small as 1.4 miles (2.2 kilometers), or twice the resolution of a similar image released on July 13.
The image shows Pluto's surface in "true color," or as it would appear to the human eye. It combines data from New Horizons' Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) and Ralph instruments.

Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, appear together in a new, "true color" portrait that highlights the reddish hue of Pluto compared to Charon's gray tone. Scientists think Pluto's red color is the result of particles created in its atmosphere, through methane's interaction with UV light. The particles stick together, growing heavier, and eventually rain down on the surface.
On the other hand, new observations of Charon suggest that it has much less atmosphere than Pluto, if any, The probe will send back more data on Charon's atmosphere in September.
For now, all that we can say is, it's a much more rarefied atmosphere [than Pluto's]," Stern said. "It may be that there's a thin nitrogen layer in the atmosphere, or methane, or some other constituent. But it must be very tenuous compared to Pluto — again, emphasizing just how different these two objects are despite their close association in space."

In a stunning image taken from beyond the far side of Pluto, in which the dwarf planet eclipses the sun, scientists can see a haze in the Plutonian atmosphere.
"This is one of our first images of Pluto's atmosphere. [It] stunned the encounter team," said Michael Summers, a New Horizons co-investigator based at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, at today's news conference. "For 25 years, we've known that Pluto has an atmosphere. But it's been known by numbers. This is our first picture. This is the first time we've really seen it. This was the image that almost brought tears to the eyes of the atmospheric scientists on our team."

The haze is created by the particles that scientists think eventually fall to the surface and give Pluto its reddish hue. The haze extends at least 100 miles (160 km) above the surface of Pluto, or five times higher than models predicted, according to Summers, who called the discovery "a big surprise." Scientists previously thought the upper layers of the atmosphere would be too warm for hazes to form, he said.
"We're going to need some new ideas to figure out what's going on

In another set of new images, scientists revealed what appears to be a wide field of glaciers flowing across Pluto's surface. The flowing ice field is easily spotted in images of the dwarf planet: It's the smooth, light-colored upper-left lobe of the heart-shaped region — an area unofficially known as Sputnik Planum.

Scientists think that, unlike glaciers on Earth, the ice in Sputnik Planum is made of nitrogen, carbon monoxide and methane. At the frigid temperature of about minus 390 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 235 Celsius), water ice "won't move anywhere," because it is too rigid and brittle to flow,
But even at such low temperatures, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and methane ices are "geologically soft and malleable," McKinnon said. At the news conference, McKinnon showed regions near the heart-shaped region's upper-left edge where the ice could be seen creeping around other geologic barriers and filling in craters. The images, he said, show "conclusive evidence" of ice flow that may still be happening on Pluto's surface today. 
 To see evidence of recent geological activity is amazing and I(Albert0) expect this,since the moon of Neptune Triton show some active on it surface. The appearance of this terrain, the utter lack of impact craters on Sputnik Planum, tells us that this is really a active world.
 Another interesting finding that has surfaced from the New Horizons data: Pluto is very close to being perfectly spherical.We actually can't detect any obliqueness or out-of-roundness in the body," McKinnon said. Many other bodies in the solar system have distortions to their roundness, which "tells you about their history," he said.
"Pluto was probably spinning very, very fast after what we believe to be a giant impact that led to the formation of [Charon]," McKinnon added, noting that the gravitational pull of the two bodies on each other would have, over time, slowed down Pluto's rapid rotation.
The New Horizons space probe made its closest approach to Pluto on July 14. The entire data set that it collected during its flyby of the dwarf planet will take 16 months to download back to Earth. The wide variety of features on Pluto's surface poses many questions that will keep scientists busy for years to come, mission team members have said.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Some Pluto photos

NASA's New Horizons space probe obtained this image of the frozen plains of Pluto, released during a press briefing held on July 17, 2015
 New Horizons’ Ralph instrument revealed evidence of carbon monoxide ice on Pluto, in the western part of the region known presently as Tombaugh Regio (Tombaugh Region), the highly visible "heart of Pluto." The contours overlain on the image show that the concentration of frozen carbon monoxide increases towards the center of the “bull’s eye.” Data was acquired by the spacecraft on July 14, 2015, and transmitted to Earth on July 16.
 This diagram depicts the interaction of the solar wind (the supersonic outflow of electrically charged particles from the sun) with Pluto’s mainly nitrogen atmosphere. Some of the atmosphere's molecules possess enough energy to overcome Pluto’s weak gravity and escape into space. Image released July 17, 2015
 NASA's New Horizons space probe found a strange feature on Pluto's moon, Charon, a depression with a peak in the middle. The image was taken on July 14, 2015 at a range of 49,000 mile.
 New Horizons space probe provides the highest resolution image of Pluto ever seen as presented in a NASA press conference on July 15, 2015, at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland. This region near Pluto’s equator surprisingly contains a range of youthful mountains rising to heights of 11,000 feet (3,500 m) above the surface.
 New Horizons provides unprecedented details of Pluto's moon, Charon! July 2015
New Horizons' Ralph instrument using the LEISA spectrometer obtained info about the distribution of methane on Pluto, as presented in a NASA press conference on July 15, 2015,

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

New Pluto facts

Pluto has mountains made of ice that are as high as those in the Rockies, images from the New Horizons probe reveal.
They also show signs of geological activity on Pluto and its moon Charon.
On Wednesday, scientists presented the first pictures acquired by the New Horizons probe during its historic flyby of the dwarf planet.
The team has also named the prominent heart-shaped region on Pluto after the world's discoverer Clyde Tombaugh.
The spacecraft sped past the dwarf planet on Tuesday, getting as close as 12,500km and grabbing a huge volume of data.
 Mission scientist John Spencer told journalists that the first close-up image of Pluto's surface showed a terrain that had been resurfaced by some geological process - such as volcanism - within the last 100 million years.
 Not found is a single impact crater on this image. This means it must be a very young surface!!!
 This active geology needs some source of heat. Previously, such activity has only been seen on icy moons, where it can be explained by "tidal heating" caused by gravitational interactions with a large host planet.
 You do not need tidal heating to power geological activity on icy worlds. That's a really important discovery we just made this morning!! I still think most of the power come from under Pluto surface.
We now have an isolated, small planet that's showing activity after 4.5 billion years!
 This same image shows mountains at the edge of the heart-like region that are up to 11,000ft (3,300m) high and which team members compared to North America's Rocky Mountains.
T he relatively thin coating of methane, carbon monoxide and nitrogen ice on Pluto's surface was not strong enough to form mountains, so they were probably composed of Pluto's water-ice bedrock.
 Water-ice at Pluto temperatures is strong enough to hold up big mountains,remember at the temp at Pluto the water Ice is very hard!!!!!!
The thin frosting of nitrogen and other volatiles on top of water-ice bedrock was intriguing, because Pluto's tenuous, mainly nitrogen atmosphere was constantly being lost to space.
 Canyons on Charon A new image of Charon, Pluto’s largest moon. The moon has a dark patch, informally called Mordor, at its north pole. The image was taken from a distance of 289,000 miles.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A new photo of Pluto.

Remember the main flyby is in few day this July 14!!!!!
The dark spots appear on the hemisphere that always faces the moon Charon—the same side that will be invisible when New Horizons makes its closest approach on July 14th. Each one is now estimated to be roughly 300 miles across, and we haven’t a darn clue what they are. But, when this image is combined with composition and color data New Horizons hasn’t yet sent back, the Geology, Geophysics and Imaging team is hopeful it’ll be able to solve the mystery.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Red-faced Pluto Full of Surprises

Hey, Mars, you’ve got company. Looks like there’s a second “red planet” in the Solar System — Pluto. Color images returned from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, now just 10 days from its encounter with the dwarf planet, show a distinctly ruddy surface with patchy markings that strongly resemble Mars’ appearance in a small telescope.
 On Mars, iron oxide or rust colors the planet’s soil, while Pluto’s coloration is likely caused by hydrocarbon molecules called tholins that are formed when cosmic rays and solar ultraviolet light interact with methane in Pluto’s atmosphere and on its surface. Airborne tholins fall out of the atmosphere and coat the surface with a reddish gunk.

A particular color or wavelength of UV light called Lyman-alpha is most effective at stimulating the chemical reactions that build hydrocarbons at Pluto. Recent measurements with New Horizons’ Alice instrument reveal the diffuse glow of Lyman-alpha light all around the dwarf planet coming from all directions of space, not just the Sun.
Since one of the main sources of Lyman-alpha light besides the Sun are regions of vigorous star formation in young galaxies, Pluto’s cosmetic rouge may originate in events happening millions of light years away.
 Pluto’s reddish color has been known for decades, but New Horizons is now allowing us to correlate the color of different places on the surface with their geology and soon, with their compositions. Tholins have been found on other bodies in the outer Solar System, including Titan and Triton, the largest moons of Saturn and Neptune, respectively, and made in laboratory experiments that simulate the atmospheres of those bodies
 As you study the photos, you’ll notice that Pluto’s largest dark spot is redder than the most of the surface; you also can’ help but wonder what’s going on with those four evenly-spaced dark streaks in the equatorial zone. When I first saw them, my reaction was “no way!” They look so neatly lined up I assumed it was an image artifact, but after seeing the rotating movie, maybe not. It’s more likely that low resolution enhances the appearance of alignment.

But what are they? Located as they are on the Charon-facing side of Pluto, they may be related to long-ago tidal stresses induced by each body on the other as they slowly settled into their current tidally-locked embrace or something as current as seasonal change.
Voyager 2 photographed cyrovolcanos at Triton during its 1989 flyby of the Neptune system. Nitrogen geysers and plumes of gas and ice as high as 5 miles (8 km) were seen erupting from active volcanoes, leaving dark streaks on its icy surface.

Today, New Horizons lies just 7.4 million miles (11.9 million km) from its target. Sharpness and detail visible will rapidly improve in just a few days.
“Even at this resolution, Pluto looks like no other world in our Solar System.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

More Pluto stuff

 (New Horizons scientists are puzzled by a series of evenly space dark splotches the spacecraft has spotted on Pluto..Above pics)

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is less than two weeks away from the first-ever flyby of frigid and faraway Pluto.
On July 14, New Horizons will zoom within just 7,800 miles (12,500 kilometers) of Pluto, snapping history's first up-close photos of the dwarf planet's mysterious surface.
But the great images are already rolling in.

On July 1, NASA released images showing Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, in true color. The photos reveal a series of evenly spaced dark splotches, each of them about 300 miles (480 kilometers) wide, near Pluto's equator on one side of the dwarf planet.
New Horizons scientists don't know what to make of the features yet.Also puzzling is the longstanding and dramatic difference in the colors and appearance of Pluto compared to its darker and grayer moon Charon. Also
Yes, there is methane on Pluto, and, no, it doesn’t come from cows. The infrared spectrometer on NASA’s Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft has detected frozen methane on Pluto’s surface; Earth-based astronomers first observed the chemical compound on Pluto in 1976.