Recent images from New Horizons have shown Pluto’s halo and icy glaciers that has brought fresh information all the way back to our very own planet. NASA’s spacecraft has been sent out on a mission since July 14th to verify and examine the largest dwarf planet in our system, and search for more knowledge in all its 1500 miles of diameter.
It has been the closest a spacecraft has ever approached Pluto and it’s now sharing images of the dwarf planet and its five moons. Through NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN), which is a network that supports interplanetary missions, New Horizons is able to send stunning pictures captured millions of miles away.
The most recent images have captured the beauty of Pluto’s surface and first substantial proof of its atmosphere that has only been theorized since 1988 until today.
The halo, or haze backlit by the Sun’s light, has given concrete evidence of the dwarf planet’s atmosphere at around 130 kilometers (approximately 80 miles) above its surface, which is over four times more than the previous 30 kilometers (approximately 18.6 miles) believed.
The Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) provided astounding images of Pluto’s splendor and details regarding what was once mere theory of both its atmosphere and surface. The haze formed around it is caused when methane gas and other hydrocarbons come into contact with the Sun’s ultraviolet light, breaking down into ethylene and acetylene that offer the dwarf planet’s reddish-brown hue.
Along with the new information regarding its halo or haze, the New Horizons has also forwarded evidence of Pluto’s exotic ice floating across its surface and even signs of geologic activity. However, it’s not water. According to the leader of New Horizons Geology, Bill McKinon, the -390 degrees Fahrenheit last recorded on the dwarf planet’s surface make it impossible for the flowing ice to be formed out of water, so it’s not a possible source.
It would be an understatement to claim that the information is “far away”, so it is the hopes of scientists that they will soon have more stunning images available from the New Horizons and will offer further insight into both Pluto and all its five moons.
Perhaps further research and investigation might prove it to be the only significant body in the Kuiper Belt, which could hand back its title of planet in our solar system.
Image source: voanews.com