We live in an interesting time. Sure, there is plenty of negative things to focus on but what sometimes gets swept under the rug is the positive. The exploration of our own solar system is very exciting right now with missions like Rosetta, Cassini and New Horizon’s helping humanity learn new things about their own neighborhood. New Horizon’s has given up our first up-close glimpse of our most distant neighbor Pluto.
Above is an image of Pluto taken by the Hubble Telescope and for a while was the most up-close image we could get of the planet. New Horizon’s however decided to show off a bit after its long journey and has taken a slew of images allowing NASA to create the flyby video below.
“We knew that a mission to Pluto would bring some surprises, and now — 10 days after closest approach — we can say that our expectation has been more than surpassed,” said NASA’s associate administrator John Grunsfeld in a prepared statement. “With flowing ices, exotic surface chemistry, mountain ranges, and vast haze, Pluto is showing a diversity of planetary geology that is truly thrilling.”
New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) revealed the once thought of dead ball of ice has actual activity on the surface. Specifically an area known as the Sputnik Planum has seen recent geologic activity. An ice sheet in that area appears to have flowed like a glacier on Earth and may still be moving along.
“At Pluto’s temperatures of minus-390 degrees Fahrenheit, these ices can flow like a glacier,” said Bill McKinnon, deputy leader of the New Horizons Geology. “In the southernmost region of the heart, adjacent to the dark equatorial region, it appears that ancient, heavily-cratered terrain has been invaded by much newer icy deposits.”
There is plenty to see in the short video as well as more to come. Be sure to head over to NASA’s official mission page for more details.