It took 9 years to finally see what Pluto has to offer and we are finally getting what we have long been waiting for. The artificial satellite, New Horizons, sent to Pluto is finally providing images of Pluto as it approaches closer. According to experts in NASA, the images are considered scientific treasures and they surpass all expectations. For some, it is considered as a home run. The images are considered mind blowing.
The images provided reflect the icy mountain ranges located near the base of Pluto. Some of them even reach the height of 11,000 feet. It is also believed that those land formations are relatively young. They are just over 100 million years old, which is way younger, compared to the solar system’s estimated age of 4.56 billion years. Thus, there is a possibility that those mountain ranges are still geologically active.
Pluto’s largest moon, Charon, also has surprising revelations. To begin with, it seems lacking in crater, which is opposed to what other moons are known for. It also has cliffs and troughs extending up to 1,000 kilometers. This suggests that there are internal geological activities taking place. The dark surface of the moon also suggests that it might have certain deposits or stains located in its northern region. New Horizons was also able to observe the other smaller moons closer to Pluto, which include Nix, Hydra, Styx and Kerberos. Hydra for instance is more or less coated with water ice and has an irregular shape.
Aside from the fact that the images collected are mind blowing, it is also expected that they could reveal some important clues as to how other objects in the solar system were formed billions of years ago. For instance, the data collected by the instruments of New Horizons, reveal that Pluto is abundant in methane ice. However, it varies across its various surfaces. In the next few days, more images of Pluto will be revealed. Hence, more clues and necessary information could be relayed to those studying it.
The people behind this project are from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland. They designed and operated the New Horizons spacecraft. This is of course under the direction of NASA. The said milestone is considered as one of the best ones yet in the world of space exploration. Hence, people are encouraged to be a part of this historic moment. Those who wanted to follow the mission of New Horizons can go to Twitter and use the hashtag #PlutoFlyby. Interesting issues about this recent discovery are also discussed. Live updates are also given out via the official Facebook page.
A few years ago, Pluto was downgraded as just another body in the solar system and not necessarily a planet. Though there were debates among space experts, this might finally be answered with the recent images take by New Horizons. The farthest planet in the solar system might as well be the most important clue that we have all been waiting for.