Up Close and Personal with the Jagged Shores of Pluto’s 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 ‘macula’ is a dark feature on a planetary surface.).


This enhanced color view from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft zooms in on the southeastern portion of Pluto’s 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

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.”

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?


Rad Super Mario Bros. Watch Will Cost You Almost $19,000!

KS Technology

It’s items like this that make me feel like a teenage boy trapped in a 29-year-old female’s body. Take a second to soak up all the pixelated Nintendo goodness. The only catch? For the same price as this watch you could buy a new car.


The watch is Romain Jerome’s latest game-inspired piece, created in honor of Super Mario Bros. launch in 1985. There are only 85 Mario watches available, so if you have an extra $20k lying around, go ahead and treat yourself.

MOVEMENT Mechanical self-winding movement

DESCRIPTION Ø 46mm. Black PVD-coated titanium case. Grainy-textured stellar-patterned integrated back with Super Mario Bros. medallion. Black pixelated 3D dial built on three levels. Pixelated Super Mario Bros. character and elements appliques hand-painted in cold enamel with the 30th anniversary colours. Black rubber with grainy-textured interior of stellar-patterned strap.


The watch face features Mario jumping in mid-air, a fluffy cloud, iconic green bush, and the highly coveted mushroom. The RJ X Super Mario Bros. watch – commemorating the game’s 30th anniversary – costs a cool $18,950.

This isn’t the first time the company has payed homage to classic video games! They also built watches celebrating Tetris, Space Invaders, and Pac-Man. Enjoy 🎮


Science Says These are the 3 Best Cheeses for the Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich

KS_LOGOs2_PopCultureChances are you know exactly what cheese you like on your grilled cheese sandwich. Maybe you enjoy a little stringy mozzarella, creamy american, or tangy sharp cheddar. Well, according to science, you’re wrong! The American Chemical Society has broken down the science behind the iconic melty sandwich – and it turns out it’s all about pH!

Picture perfect grilled cheese (Flickr: Serious Eats)
Picture perfect grilled cheese (Flickr: Serious Eats)

I was surprised to find out that acid levels dictate the ultimate ‘gooeyness’ of cheese. Cheeses with an acidity in the range of pH 5.3 to 5.5 — such as gouda, gruyére or manchego — are best for being heated up in a sandwich.

Too much acidity (or a very low pH), aka ‘sharper’ cheeses, can break down while melting leaving you with a clumpy texture. So, if you are trying to pick the right cheddar cheese, go with the more mild option.

The latest video from the YouTube series Reactions, hosted by the ACS, explains the chemistry of the perfect grilled cheese sandwich in-depth. You’ve got to check it out below! 😜

As for me? I’ll stick with american cheese and a whole lot of butter. It made me smile when I was 5 years old and it still makes me smile today.


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 – 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! 🌒

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’ 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)

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.

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’s ‘Heart’. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
Pluto’s ‘Heart’. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
Valley glaciers on Pluto. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
Valley glaciers on Pluto. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

Crazy X-Ray Images Show Python Digesting an Alligator Whole – And it Only Took 7 Days!

KS Strange Science

Have you ever wondered what it looks like when snakes digest their prey? As humans, we tend to eat certain parts of animals… while snakes eat and digest whole animals.

Below are a series of X-Ray images that reveal just what happens when a Burmese python swallows an entire alligator.

Burmese pythons are one of the five largest snakes in the world. Their body’s response to eating such large prey is what makes them a model species for digestive physiology. After they ingest their prey, their digestive system goes into hyper-drive. Each meal triggers dramatic increases in metabolism, upregulation of tissue function and tissue growth. Their organs literally supersize themselves!

Dr. Steven Secor, Professor at the University of Alabama, is obsessed with ‘the integrative design of gastrointestinal morphology and function.’ Who isn’t, right? 😉

Dr Secor said: ‘For the Burmese python, native to southeastern Asia, the next meal could range from a monitor lizard or ground-dwelling bird to a prey as formidable as a pangolin, deer or leopard… When it does eventually capture a prey and feed, the python’s previously dormant gut rapidly resumes function to tackle the difficult task of digesting a prey that may exceed half of the python’s own body mass. Upon the completion of digestion, these postprandial responses are thrown into reverse; tissue function is collectively downregulated and tissues undergo atrophy.’

Dr. Secor and his colleagues discovered that the snake’s heart increased by 40%, it’s pancreas increased by 94%, it’s kidney’s increased by 72%, and the reptile’s liver more than doubled in size.

Want more information? Check out Dr. Stephen Secor’s 2008 submission to the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Day 1- Here, you can see the alligator’s snout, torso, legs, and tail, snuggly stuffed in the python’s gut.


Day 2 – The soft tissue is dissolving and the skeleton has begun to break down. The python floods its small intestine with powerful enzymes and acid, while its metabolic rate increases – forty times!


Day 3 – The bones continue to be broken down, it’s scaly skin disappearing. The snake is essentially immobile during such a large meal, making it vulnerable to predators.


Day 4 – Only the hardest parts of the alligator remain as the python begins its final stages of digestion.


Day 5 – Almost finished. The snake must digest quickly before the alligator rots.


Day 6 – Little is left of the alligator. By day 7 the python’s large snack will be completely digested. 


Day 7 – ALL GONE! Nom nom nom.