Pluto pictures are pouring in
Pluto pictures are pouring in This July 14, 2015, photo provided by NASA shows a synthetic perspective view of Pluto, based on the latest high-resolution images to be downlinked from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. The new close-up images of Pluto reveal an even more diverse landscape than scientists imagined before New Horizons swept past Pluto in July. (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute via AP)
Pluto pictures are pouring in
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The spigot has opened again, and Pluto pictures are pouring in once more from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft.
 
These newest snapshots reveal an even more diverse landscape than scientists imagined before New Horizons swept past Pluto in July. It became the first spacecraft to ever visit the distant dwarf planet.
 
"If an artist had painted this Pluto before our flyby, I probably would have called it over the top. But that's what is actually there," said Alan Stern, New Horizons' principal scientist from Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.
 
In one picture, dark ancient craters border much younger icy plains. Dark ridges also are visible that some scientists speculate might be dunes.
 
One outer solar-system geologist, William McKinnon of Washington University in St. Louis, said if the ridges are, in fact, dunes, that would be "completely wild" given Pluto's thin atmosphere.
 
"Either Pluto had a thicker atmosphere in the past, or some process we haven't figured out is at work. It's a head-scratcher," McKinnon said in a written statement.
 
The jumble of mountains, on the other hand, may be huge blocks of ice. They could be floating in a softer, vast deposit of frozen nitrogen.
 
After several weeks of collecting engineering data from New Horizons, scientists started getting fresh Pluto pictures. The latest images were released Sept. 10.
 
Besides geologic features, the images show that the atmospheric haze surrounding Pluto has multiple layers. What's more, the haze creates a twilight effect. It enables New Horizons to study places on the night side that scientists never expected to see.
 
It has been more than two months since New Horizons' close encounter with Pluto. That was on July 14. Its journey began at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The flight has spanned 3 billion miles and 9 1/2 years. As of Sept. 11, the spacecraft was 44 million miles past Pluto.
 
So much data was collected during the Pluto flyby that it will take until next fall to retrieve it all on Earth. The spacecraft is operated from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. It is in Laurel, Maryland. The physics lab also designed and built it.
 
New Horizons' next target, pending formal approval by NASA, will be a much smaller object that orbits 1 billion miles beyond Pluto. It, too, lies in the so-called Kuiper Belt. That is a frigid twilight zone on the outskirts of our solar system. Following a set of maneuvers, New Horizons would reach PT1 - short for Potential Target 1 - in 2019.

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/tween78/pluto-pictures-are-pouring/

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why did it take so long to get more photos from Pluto?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (19)
  • ryand1-mil
    9/21/2015 - 01:55 p.m.

    I feel like it is really neat that our technology has progressed this much. Now that we have been to get to Pluto you can tell how much it has. We now know that their is a lot in Outer Space. Someday we may get in to other galaxies.

  • collinf-2-bar
    9/21/2015 - 08:27 p.m.

    It took so long to get photos from Pluto because the space craft has collected so much data.

    I was surprised that the journey took 9 1/2 years.

  • kaled-2-bar
    9/23/2015 - 04:06 p.m.

    It took so long because Pluto is 3 billion miles away from planet Earth and accordingly is 9.5 years away from us.

    This article was fascinating because it contained lots of information about Pluto.

  • carsonk-2-bar
    9/24/2015 - 09:39 p.m.

    It took so long to get more photos from Pluto due to the fact that it's tons of miles away from Earth, the cameras we have are not that advanced yet and the atmosphere there is thick. "So much data was collected during the Pluto flyby that it will take until next fall to retrieve it all on Earth." I found this article interesting because We are taking pictures of Pluto and getting to know it better even though it's billions of miles away.

  • tyn-2-bar
    9/24/2015 - 11:26 p.m.

    In the article it mentions that Pluto is on the outer ring of our solar system. The outer ring of our solar system is 4.67 billion miles away from earth. That's a long distance. So, in order to take a good picture of Pluto New Horizons would have to travel far, far from Earth.

  • kayleeu-2-bar
    9/29/2015 - 08:09 p.m.

    It took very long to get more photos from pluto because pluto is very far away from earth which means that it would take a very long time for the pictures to get to earth and the spigot had opened again.

  • angelinat-3-bar
    10/07/2015 - 12:17 a.m.

    It took a while to get photos from Pluto because Pluto is very far away from Earth, so it takes a while to send a satellite there. As referred to in the article the flight of the satellite took 9 1/2 years. I was surprised by this article because I did not realize how Pluto is from Earth. This article was interesting because I am very fascinated with meteorology.

  • zeusr-3-bar
    10/15/2015 - 08:59 p.m.

    since Pluto is the furthest planet from earth it means that it's pretty hard to see and to take pictures of.

  • Steve0620-yyca
    6/21/2016 - 02:23 p.m.

    It is astounding that the people have gotten pictures of Pluto. It has been taken NASA's New Horizons spacecraft. The spacecraft is controlled from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. Researchers are looking at the pictures learn about the dwarf planet more. However, it is stumping them on some parts of the planet. For example, they can not quite distinguish if some parts of it are ridges or dunes. If they actually were dunes, it would be startling because of the planet's thin atmospheres. I hope that the researchers would find out more information about Pluto.
    I think that it took so long to get more photos from Pluto because of the distance. They also needed to get clear pictures.

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