NASA’s New Horizons space probe is moving through our solar system, and soon it will fly near Pluto. New surface features of the small planet will appear more and more.
Pictures taken from here are the clearest images of Pluto, which were obtained by man. After a month of his flight, New Horizons already gives us some interesting photos that will slightly open up to us a bizarre and unique planetary world.
Take, for example, the latest series of information captured by the long-distance intelligence mission Imager (Lorry), which was received from May 29 to June 2. There are large differences in surface albedo (Reflectivity). This may indicate that there are vast areas of varying composition.
A recent blog post by Emily Lakdavala of the Planetary Society talks about how one of these intriguing features on Pluto evokes nostalgic memories of the very first days of exploration of Mars. Sketches of the surface map of Mars were first created by astronomers Giovanni Schiaparelli and Percival Lowell (late 1800s - early 1900s), including the Mars Channels - features that were visible in fuzzy images of Mars obtained with telescopes, and were interpreted as one of the evidence the existence of life on mars. These assumptions were false, of course, but at the same time even the earliest observations of Mars opened for us a whole new world with a unique and bizarre surface. However, New Horizons sends images not of Mars, but of a completely different planet, which is located almost thirty times further from the Sun. This is a mountain world, which, most likely, has many common features with Neptune’s satellite Triton, with this strange celestial body, very different from everything else that is here in our planetary system. This is an incredible discovery; we cannot even guess what features or unusual properties the surface of Pluto will have. But now, from a distance of about 30 million miles, we can only assume how, more than a hundred years ago, scientists made assumptions based on fuzzy outlines.
And what if the dark areas are large rocky areas, and the bright regions are covered with ice? Can our current understanding of the surface structure of other planets explain exactly what we are seeing? Now we have no idea about this, but in the future we plan to sort things out.
“Even if the latest images were taken from a distance of more than 30 million miles, they still show a more complex surface with clear evidence of surface discretization. The equatorial region is brighter and the darker areas with can also change their brightness,” said Alan Stern, principal investigator. Southwestern Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado. "We also see that each part of Pluto is significantly different from the other, and that the northern hemisphere of Pluto is much darker than the southern. ibolee dark and bright areas of land subject to the south and Pluto near its equator Why is it so -. the big question. " “We squeezed as much information as possible from these images, we saw details that we had never seen before,” added Hal Weaver, a scientist at Johns Hopkins University from the Laboratory of Applied Physics in Laurel, Maryland. ”We saw evidence of light and dark spots in images from the Hubble Space Telescope and in previous photos, but these new pictures provided by New Horizons point to a more complex surface structure. Now we want to know more about these differences in surface and about what causes them. By the beginning of July, we will have spectroscopic data that will help determine the causes. "