Scientists were stunned after viewing the latest images from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. Not only is the surface of Pluto covered in large icy mountains, low-lying hazes, and streams of frozen nitrogen – it also looks eerily like the arctic.
The photo below was taken just 15 minutes after New Horizons made its closest approach to Pluto on July 14, 2015. The spacecraft looked back toward the sun and caught this backlit panorama of Pluto’s rugged mountains and flat icy plains. The backlighting highlights over a dozen layers of haze in Pluto’s atmosphere. Trippy! 🌒
This new view offers a unique look at Pluto’s varied terrains and atmosphere. It was taken by New Horizons’ wide-angle Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera (MVIC) on July 14 and downlinked to Earth on Sept. 13. Below is a close up of Pluto’s majestic icy mountains and flat glassy plains. It was taken at a distance of 11,000 miles.
“This image really makes you feel you are there, at Pluto, surveying the landscape for yourself,” said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado. “But this image is also a scientific bonanza, revealing new details about Pluto’s atmosphere, mountains, glaciers and plains.”
Let me quickly break down the geography of Pluto’s ‘heart.’ Sputnik Planum is the name of the smooth region on the left of the heart. The white upland region on the right may be coated in nitrogen ice that evaporated from the surface of Sputnik. The box shows the location of the glacier detail image below.
It’s official – the world has Pluto fever! NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft just completed its nearly decade long mission to fly by the dwarf planet Pluto. Christmas has come early for the scientific community as the exciting discoveries keep rolling in! What they’ve learned over the past week will blow your mind. 🌖🚀
Each of the Apollo missions that touched down on the Moon planted an American flag in the soil. What if, instead of planting a flag that represented our country, we planted a flag that represented our WORLD? 🌎
Oskar Pernefeldt of the Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm, Sweden, has proposed one simple blue flag to represent all of planet Earth as part of his graduation project.
Here is the symbolic explanation, according to Pernefeldt: “Centered in the flag, seven rings form a flower – a symbol of the life on Earth. The rings are linked to each other, which represents how everything on our planet, directly or indirectly, are linked. The blue field represents water which is essential for life – also as the oceans cover most of our planet’s surface. The flower’s outer rings form a circle which could be seen as a symbol of Earth as a planet and the blue surface could represent the universe.”
Pernefeldt’s flag is designed to represent planet Earth and help remind people that we all share this planet, regardless of national boundaries. I’m in love with this idea! It is part of the reason I love following the International Space Station. The ISS is one of those magical places where multiple nationalities come together to work towards a common goal, no matter what country they call home.
These photos provide a glimpse into the future if Pernefeldt’s vision ever became a reality.
Click the video below for a more detailed explanation of how the International Flag of Planet Earth was constructed.
Construction video of The International Flag of Planet Earth.
The video is a part of the graduation project by Oskar Pernefeldt, 2015.