[Update 3] Live stream of status report at 9:30PT.

[Update 2] New Horizons made it past Pluto!

[Update 1] NASA releases a photo of Pluto and Charon in colour

nh-071315_falsecolorcomposite

NASA has just released a new photo that features both Pluto and its moon Charon in false colour. NASA notes that these are not actual colour images of the pair, and what you actually see is exaggerated colours that make it easier for NASA to see the differences in the surface materials, as well as other features on the planetary body.

The images were obtained using three of the colour filters of the “Ralph” instrument that New Horizons has on board, which is just 1 of 7 science instruments at its disposal.

NASA hopes that this new data will help scientists to find out the molecular make-up of ices on the surface of the two, as well as the age of features like creators and even about surface changes caused by space weather.

You can find out more about the false colour images at the source link below.

Source: NASA

[Original Story]

Almost a decade after NASA launched the New Horizons spacecraft they have captured an absolutely breathtaking image of the demoted planet. Sent by the craft at the point of its closest approach to Pluto earlier today (476,000 miles away), the image is the last and most detailed that was sent back to earth and shows a view that simply leaves in awe of Pluto.

What makes the image so interesting is what NASA are calling the “heart”, measuring approximately 1,000 miles across, the heart borders darker terrains and a mottled terrain to its east, with the heart’s interior appearing to be pretty featureless, something which NASA thinks shows ongoing geologic processes.

All of which was sent by New Horizons from three billion miles away from Earth.

Pluto with moon

And the heart is not all NASA can see from the image, they also noticed that some of the surfaces on Pluto appear to be peppered with impact craters that are about several billion years old according to NASA, but when they look at other areas they can see no obvious craters, indicating that areas like the interior of the heart are younger, which indicates that Pluto has experienced a “complex geological history”.

On top of this earlier on in the week NASA also found that Pluto is about 1,473 miles in diameter, which is just a fraction of the size of Earth’s moon but is still considered to be the largest object within the solar system beyond the orbit of Neptune.

This new information means that NASA now knows that Pluto’s density is lower than previously thought and its lowest layer of atmosphere is shallower than they estimated earlier.

And this is just the start, NASA will also be releasing more images of Pluto’s surface, with close-ups that will soon be on their more than four-hour journey back to Earth at the speed of light.

“Our data tomorrow (Wednesday, July 15) will have ten times the resolution of what we see today and it will knock your socks off,” said New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern.

So make sure to keep a look out for that. In the meantime you can find out more at the source link below.

Source: NASA

 

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