The Icy World Of Wonder: Mind Blowing Images And Science Findings Revealed Today
In a much anticipated event, the New Horizons science team released new images of Pluto and science findings today. Among the most amazing images is a hauntingly beautiful image of a luminous atmospheric halo around Pluto taken by New Horizons on July 15, when the spacecraft was behind Pluto. The science team calls it a "breathtaking farewell to New Horizons". The latest images also found evidence of exotic ices flowing across Pluto's surface. The media briefing was carried live on NASA TV at 2 p.m. EDT.
Below are the images that were released along with captions. We will write follow up articles over the next few days to provide more details about each new image and findings.
Video Caption: The hazes in Pluto’s atmosphere, observed by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft on July 14, provide a crucial link between the sunlight-driven chemistry in the upper atmosphere and the reddish-brown hydrocarbons called tholins that rain down and darken the surface. The animation shows several steps: 1) Ultraviolet sunlight breaks apart methane in Pluto’s upper atmosphere. 2) This leads to the buildup of complex hydrocarbons, such as ethylene and acetylene. 3) Clumps of these hydrocarbons condense as ice particles to form the hazes. 4) The hazes are chemically converted to tholins, which fall to the surface and darken Pluto.
Video caption: This simulated flyover of two regions on Pluto, northwestern Sputnik Planum (Sputnik Plain) and Hillary Montes (Hillary Mountains), was created from New Horizons close-approach images. Sputnik Planum has been informally named for Earth’s first artificial satellite, launched in 1957. Hillary Montes have been informally named for Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the first two humans to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1953. The images were acquired by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on July 14 from a distance of 48,000 miles (77,000 kilometers). Features as small as one-half mile (1 kilometer) across are visible.