A few decades ago, sending a spacecraft on an expedition was a feat in itself. But today we take it for granted and we demand more and more photos, video frames and scientific data that will tell us the story of the creation of the Universe. And, fortunately for us, modern spacecraft meet our expectations.
This week new astrophotographs of the Pluto area came. They showed us a huge amount of detail on the surface of this dwarf planet. Below you can read a lot of interesting facts about Pluto and other space objects: Mars, volcanic Io and the dwarf planet Ceres with its mysterious bright spots.
The first close-up of Pluto, we will see soon. On July 14, the New Horizons spacecraft will enter the vicinity of the dwarf planet and its satellites. It still remains a mystery what exactly is on its surface. But when looking at Pluto, we subconsciously understand that other ice objects located in the depths of the Solar System should look the same. Long-term observations of Pluto, carried out for many years in a row using the Hubble Space Telescope, suggest that the surface of the planet is variegated and constantly changes its appearance, which is associated with its rotation around its own axis.
Pluto: Research Prospects
The New Horizons spacecraft will help us find answers to many of the most serious questions. What is the polar cap at the pole of the planet? Why is the equator full of dark and light spots? All this we can learn in just one month.
Damn it! What are these white things ?! On Ceres, the dwarf planet of our astroid belt, the Hubble Space Telescope examined several bright areas. Astrophotographs, published in 2005, show these bright spots that appear in each image and still remain a mystery. However, compared to the spots on other planets, these still seem to be darkish. The reason is that the planet reflects only a small fraction of the sunlight falling on it.
Ceres: Research Prospects
For several weeks now, the space ship Rassvet has been carrying out its mission near Ceres. Many high-resolution photographs have been taken with it, but astronomers are still perplexed about the nature of these spots. Maybe the spots are ice? Or salt? More extensive research is required to find out what they consist of and how they appeared on the planet. According to NASA, this phenomenon is unique to the solar system.
Already the first flights around Mars showed that visually this planet is very similar to the Moon. Dreams of life on Mars in the minds of people gradually disappeared, and the planet began to be perceived solely as a dead world until the mission Mariner9 in 1971 established amazing facts. On the planet there are ancient volcanoes, like Mount Olympus, and a huge canyon spread its network in almost all regions of Mars.
Mars: Research Prospects
Today, fortunately, we have on hand images of Mars in high resolution, which are made and sent to earth scientists daily. Thus, we have the opportunity to observe in detail all the changes of the planet. In 2004, the Mars Express mission produced the first high-quality images of a caldera on Olympus.
Comet 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko: formerly
The Hubble Space Telescope, located at the height of the Earth's orbit, played an important role in laying the route for the Rosetta spacecraft, which was to reach the 67r / Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet as soon as possible. In 2003, the capabilities of the telescope were limited by the size and period of rotation of the comet. Therefore, in the pictures, the comet looked like a soccer ball.
Comet 67P / Churyumov-Gerasimenko: Perspectives for Research
Scientists and the public in 2014 were literally fascinated by the fact that Rosetta finally approached the comet. Intrigues have added photos showing that the comet literally keeps on the thinnest compound. In November, the ship Phile sank to the surface of the planet and collected valuable data on the nature and origin of the comet for several dozen hours.
When, in the 1980s, the Voyager comic spacecraft flew in close proximity to Titan, the astronauts saw only the scant outlines of the satellite. The reason for this is the capabilities of the human eye, which is able to capture the image only in visible light. The orange mist reliably hides the surface beneath itself, leaving all the features of Titan a mystery for many decades to come. This fog is like the shroud of Venus. A man will need a lot of effort to open all the secrets of Titan.
Titan: Research Perspectives
The Cassini spacecraft in 2004 arrived in the Saturn system. He was well equipped to see through the fog. For example, in the image made by Cassini in 2014 using the visible and infrared cartographic spectrometer (VISM), you can see the huge seas of ethane and methane. The spacecraft found fluid accumulations near the poles and sand dunes, which are located at the equator. In addition, in 2005, the Huygens spacecraft sank to the surface of the satellite and sent many interesting images to Earth.
Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun. For many years of the space age, he ran away from the scrutiny of scientists. In 1974-1975, one probe flew past the planet several times, but was able to catch only the tantalizing glimpses of its surface. To create a global map of Mercury, its atmosphere and internal structure will take more than one decade.
Mercury: Perspectives for Research
NASA has just completed the Messenger mission, which was devoted to the study of the surface of Mercury, its space environment, geochemistry and range. Some of the main findings of Messenger include convincing evidence of the presence of water vapor at the poles, a weak atmosphere with a seasonal change of seasons and the presence of old volcanic deposits.
Unlike our quiet moon, Io is the highly volcanic moon of Jupiter. When the Voyager-1 spacecraft flew over IO in 1979, its colorful, like pizza, surface became a real discovery.
Io: research perspectives
The Galileo spacecraft, launched in the 1990s, made global images of Io's surface immediately after the eruption of its volcanoes. Understanding how Io volcanoes work will help us understand many of the processes in the solar system.