Recently, the latest photos of Pluto, which the New Horizons spacecraft sent us, were received. Scientists were amazed at so many of the diverse landscape of Pluto.
“We are still amazed at what we see,” said NASA head, scientist John Gransfeld, in a statement. In the last images, a 50-mile wide strip is highlighted. It was made when the New Horizons was at a distance of 15 minutes from its maximum rendezvous with Pluto on July 14.
Pluto per minute
While the mission of New Horizons was rushing towards Pluto, the probe's telescopic cameras had already begun to work and made several successive images. The surface of Pluto was unexpectedly diverse, indicating a complex and rich geology.
Scientists have not yet found an answer to the question of how some of the craters of Pluto formed and why they have so many layers. Look closely, they can be clearly seen in the picture.
"Layers in geology, as a rule, mean significant changes in the composition of the rock have occurred. Members of the New Horizons team did not notice local, regional or global stratifications that were later found on photographs," NASA reported. The main spacecraft assistant, the LORRI device, took a series of images 15 minutes before New Horizons came close to Pluto. The dark crater in the center of the image appears to be younger than the others, because the displaced material is still noticeable around the crater. Most craters are located in the 155-mile wide area known as the Bernie Basin, whose outer rim is shaped like hills.
New Horizons traveled more than 50 miles across the width of the planet along Pluto’s northern hemisphere, including a two-kilometer-high, high cliff (on the left in the top corner of the photo from the general series of images taken with the LORRI instrument, short for Long Range Reconnaissance Imager). The rock is part of a canyon system that extends hundreds of miles across the northern hemisphere of Pluto. Scientists believe that these mountains to the middle consist of ice, which was converted from nitrogen or other elements. At the bottom of the image, taken when the New Horizons was 10,000 miles away from Pluto, its barren lands and the icy plains of Plato's satellite are clearly visible.
The blocks of ice at the top left of the photo, apparently for some reason, froze right here and formed the mountains of Al-Idrisi. Some of the mountains are most likely covered with dark material, while others are light. The mountains begin to end in the coastal region called "Satellite Planum", which is distinguished by a rather rich layer of nitrogen ice and forms an almost flat surface. New Horizons took a series of images from his assistant LORRI and transferred them to Earth at about 11:36 AM on July 14, 2015, 15 minutes before the closest approach of the spacecraft to Pluto.
This planet is very interesting for science. Scientists are sure: it will present many more surprises for humans.