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NASA: New Horizons probe zooms into Pluto's plains

NASA's New Horizons probe has returned further images of Pluto that include a view of the dwarf planet's strange icy plains.

TAGS: Pluto American space agency probe new horizons soviet sputnik satelite surface bulging nix planet's moon alan stern

The American space agency probe, New Horizons, has returned new images of Pluto, including the planet’s mysterious icy plains.

A region that has been named after the Soviet Sputnik satellite displays a flat space broken up into polygons. At the edges of 20-30km-wide plains are troughs filled with dark material and small mounds. Due to the gentle heating coming from below, scientists say this could be evidence of surface bulging.

Scientists also state they are trying not to jump into any conclusions in their interpretations, nut until they get more data for the spacecraft.

Jeff Moore, lead in the geology, geophysics and imaging team on New Horizon, says when he first saw the image of Sputnik, he wanted to call it ‘not easy to explain terrain.’

During the media briefing at Nasa HQ in Washington DC, they showed a first picture of Nix, of the planet’s smaller moons. The picture is not well resolved, as it is only 15 pixels in the longest dimension. However, scientists can get an idea of its shape and size, estimating the size to be around 40 km across.

Alan Stern, lead scientist said we have to set out expectations. Only three months ago, we had no pictures of Pluto. Not of this quality.

 

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