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Pluto and Charon in close-up

Friday evening there was another media briefing from the New Horizons team, this time at NASA HQ, and more images taken during the fly-by were released out into the wild. The team looked excited but tired, and the big reveal of the previous media event was a hard act to follow, but the images they showed – with Brian May beaming from the audience – were beautiful and showed just what a fascinating world Pluto is.

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Here’s a view of part of the flatter, brighter region referred to so far as the “heart”, which has now, very fittingly, been christened (also informally for the moment) “Tombaugh Regio” in honour of Pluto’s discoverer… and to everyone’s surprise it shows a landscape very reminiscent of the icy polar terrain found on both Earth and Mars…

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The mission scientists – as well as other scientists and armchair experts all around the world – have been pouring over that image and speculating giddily about what it shows, and are very excited about the dark features gathered in the “cracks in the pavement” on the edges of the polygonal features. Some are vertical features – mounds, hills, whatever. Elsewhere, some dark spots look suspiciously, to some, like they could be pits, and many are wondering if we’re seeing evidence of Triton-like geysers and maybe even plumes on Pluto…!

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Looking forward to seeing higher resolution images of those in the days, weeks and months ahead.

The pace of image release will really slow now, as the team knuckles down and starts getting stuck into the science, so the next big media briefing will be next Friday night. I’m sure we’ll see some more wonderful portraits of Pluto then.🙂

2 Responses

  1. I want you to make a post about Rosetta again. The comet’s getting close to perihelion.

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