Up Close and Personal with the Jagged Shores of Pluto‚Äôs Highlands

space-newsIt’s time to get up close and personal with Pluto’s dark, rugged highlands – informally named Krun Macula. (Krun is the lord of the underworld in the Mandaean religion, and a ‚Äėmacula‚Äô is a dark feature on a planetary surface.).

plutohighlands

This enhanced color view from NASA‚Äôs New Horizons spacecraft zooms in on the southeastern portion of Pluto‚Äôs great ice plains. Krun Macula rises 1.5 miles above Pluto’s icy surface,¬†and the craters that decorate it typically reach between 5 and 8 miles across!

The amazing image below was crafted using three separate observations made by New Horizons as it flew by Pluto in July 2015. It represents pieces of the highest and second-highest resolution observations gathered by the spacecraft.

pluto close up
Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

Why does Pluto have that dark rust color? According to NASA, Pluto is believed to get its deep red color from tholins, complex molecules found across much of the surface.


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The Latest Pics from NASA: Nobody Has Ever Seen Such Detailed Images of Pluto

Krystian Science SpaceWe are witnessing history, people! NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has sent back the first in a series of the sharpest views of Pluto it snapped during its flyby in July. According to NASA, these are the best close-up images of Pluto we may see for decades.

The Mountainous Shoreline of Sputnik Planum. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
The Mountainous Shoreline of Sputnik Planum. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

The photo above¬†is the highest-resolution image showing huge blocks of Pluto’s icy crust slammed together in¬†the al-Idrisi mountains. The¬†series of detailed images features¬†a sequence taken near New Horizons’ closest approach to¬†Pluto. These photos capture the beauty and diversity of Pluto’s terrain.

“The mountains bordering Sputnik Planum are absolutely stunning at this resolution,” said New Horizons science team member John Spencer of the Southwest Research Institute. “The new details revealed here, particularly the crumpled ridges in the rubbly material surrounding several of the mountains, reinforce our earlier impression that the mountains are huge ice blocks that have been jostled and tumbled and somehow transported to their present locations.‚ÄĚ

With resolutions of about 250-280 feet (77-85 meters) per pixel, NASA was able to capture¬†features less than half a city block wide on the surface. The sequence – which¬†forms a strip 50 miles (80 kilometers) wide on a world 3 billion miles away – shows Pluto’s massive craters, mountains, ice fields and glaciers.

The New Horizons spacecraft transmits recorded data from its flight through the Pluto system on July 14th every week. Mission scientists expect to receive more amazing images of Pluto over the next few days.

Aren’t you excited¬†to see what they find?


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Incredible New Pluto Pic Highlights ‘Arctic’ Peaks and Valleys in Backlit Panorama

Krystian Science SpaceScientists 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 Рit 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! ūüĆí

Pluto’s Majestic Mountains, Frozen Plains and Foggy Hazes. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
Pluto’s Majestic Mountains, Frozen Plains and Foggy Hazes. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

This new view offers a unique look at Pluto’s varied terrains and atmosphere. It was¬†taken by New Horizons‚Äô 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.

Closer Look: Majestic Mountains and Frozen Plains. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)
Closer Look: Majestic Mountains and Frozen Plains. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

‚ÄúThis image really makes you feel you are there, at Pluto, surveying the landscape for yourself,‚ÄĚ said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado. ‚ÄúBut this image is also a scientific bonanza, revealing new details about Pluto‚Äôs atmosphere, mountains, glaciers and plains.‚ÄĚ

Near-Surface Haze or Fog on Pluto. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
Near-Surface Haze or Fog on Pluto. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

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.

Pluto‚Äôs ‚ÄėHeart‚Äô. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
Pluto‚Äôs ‚ÄėHeart‚Äô. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
Valley glaciers on Pluto. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
Valley glaciers on Pluto. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
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Space Update: Kepler 452b = Earth 2.0, Pluto’s New Moons + Mountains & Three Men Join the ISS

Krystian Science SpaceSpace has been all the rage this month! NASA’s New Horizon’s spacecraft made¬†a historic trip to Pluto, the¬†Kepler exoplanet explorer discovered Kepler-452b, and three new crew members successfully¬†joined the ISS. Let me catch you up here! ūüĆéūüöÄ


Kepler-452b

NASA’s Kepler mission has confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the ‚Äúhabitable zone‚ÄĚ around a sun-like star. This discovery and the introduction of 11 other new small habitable zone candidate planets mark another milestone in the journey to finding another ‚ÄúEarth.‚ÄĚ

Kepler-452b is 60 percent bigger in diameter than Earth and scientists feel there is a good chance its rocky, although its mass and composition are currently unknown.

‚ÄúWe can think of Kepler-452b as an older, bigger¬†cousin to Earth, providing an opportunity to understand and reflect upon Earth‚Äôs evolving environment,” said Jon Jenkins, Kepler data analysis lead at NASA, who led the team that discovered Kepler-452b. “It‚Äôs awe-inspiring to consider that this planet has spent 6 billion years in the habitable zone of its star; longer than Earth. That‚Äôs substantial opportunity for life to arise, should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life exist on this planet.‚ÄĚ

The confirmation of Kepler-452b brings the total number of confirmed planets to 1,030.

452b Earth Comparison Illustration
This artist’s concept compares Earth (left) to the new planet, called Kepler-452b, which is about 60 percent larger in diameter. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle

Pluto

A newly discovered mountain range lies near the southwestern margin of Pluto’s Tombaugh Regio (Tombaugh Region), situated between flat, icy plains and dark, heavily-cratered terrain. The image below was taken by New Horizons on July 14, 2015 from a distance of 48,000 miles and sent back to Earth on July 20.

Pluto’s largest moon Charon has snagged most of the press lately, but there are two smaller moons – Nix and Hydra – that were the second and third moons to be discovered.

Pluto‚Äôs jelly bean shaped moon Nix (left), has a reddish spot that has attracted the interest of mission scientists. Nix is estimated to be 26 miles long and 22 miles wide. Pluto’s awkwardly¬†shaped moon Hydra (right) is¬†34 miles in length. The black and white image taken by New Horizons on July 14 reveals features as small as 0.7 miles.


International Space Station

Expedition 44 Flight Engineer Kimiya Yui, of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), top; Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren of NASA, center, and Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), bottom, wave farewell prior to boarding the Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft for launch, Thursday, July 23, 2015 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Kononenko, Lindgren, and Yui will spend the next five months aboard the International Space Station. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)
Expedition 44 Flight Engineer Kimiya Yui (JAXA), top; Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren of NASA, center, and Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko (Roscosmos), bottom.Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

Three crew members representing the United States, Russia and Japan have arrived at the International Space Station to continue important research!

NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Kimiya Yui launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:02 p.m. EDT Wednesday (3:02 a.m., Thursday, July 23 in Baikonur) and docked at the station at 10:45 p.m. They will be aboard the ISS for five months and are expected to return to Earth at the end of December.

The three men join Expedition 44 commander Gennady Padalka of Roscosmos and flight engineers Scott Kelly of NASA and Mikhail Kornienko of Roscosmos, who have been aboard the complex since March 27.

Click the video below to see the successful launch of the Russian Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft on July 23, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Space Update: Kepler 452b = Earth 2.0, Pluto’s New Moons + Mountains & Three Men Join the ISS

PLUTO VIDEO UPDATE: Pluto’s Big Flat Icy Heart and Shocking Mountain Ranges!

KS_LOGOs2_TVbroadcastIt’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. ūüĆĖūüöÄ

Krystian Science TV’s Latest Pluto Update


PLUTO VIDEO UPDATE: Pluto’s Big Flat Icy Heart and Shocking Mountain Ranges!

Epic Photos Detail Multiple Discoveries from NASA‚Äôs New Horizons Pluto Mission

Krystian Science Space

Pluto observations through the years. Credit: NASA
Pluto observations through the years. Credit: NASA

Icy mountains¬†on Pluto and a new, crisp view of its largest moon,¬†Charon, are among the several discoveries announced Wednesday by NASA’s New Horizons team, just one day after the spacecraft‚Äôs first ever Pluto flyby. Here is¬†a collection of incredible photos that highlight¬†just a few of NASA’s recent findings. Feel free to geek out – such an¬†exciting time! ūüöÄ

Pluto New Horizons is a true mission of exploration showing us why basic scientific research is so important,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “The mission has had nine years to build expectations about what we would see during closest approach to Pluto and Charon. Today, we get the first sampling of the scientific treasure collected during those critical moments, and I can tell you it dramatically surpasses those high expectations.”

Epic Photos Detail Multiple Discoveries from NASA‚Äôs New Horizons Pluto Mission