A newly created psychedelic image of Pluto marked with some highly contrasting shades has revealed several new features of the dwarf planet.
Alan Stern, the principal investigator of New Horizons, said that knowing that it’s possible for small planets to remain active at such a massive scale even after billions of years of their creation is truly huge for the scientists. Stern, who represents the Colorado-based Southwest Research Institute or SWRI, made this comment at the meeting held by American Astronomical Society’s Division of Planetary Science on Monday in National Harbor, MD.
For quite some time, around a year to be more precise, the New Horizons spacecraft has been consistently sending truly amazing HD quality images of the dwarf planet Pluto. These images have provided scientists with the opportunity of understanding the relatively new planet better. For those who don’t know: Pluto is just around 10 million years old.
As mentioned above, Pluto has been the primary focus of the New Horizons spacecraft of NASA since the past one year. However, in spite of getting so much data, it was not easy for the scientists to create a perfect image of Pluto.
The team shared some really significant findings during Monday’s meeting. Other than coming up with age estimates of other parts of the planet, scientists also put forward fresh data pertaining to its small, hazy atmosphere.
As a particular surface of a planet doesn’t have any age proof, scientists count the number of craters on it for finding out how exactly the surface has changed. Images captured by New Horizons to date have revealed chemical compositions, icy plains, mountains and detailed information about the complex atmosphere of Pluto. These findings altered the majority of the earlier beliefs regarding the dwarf planet and also provided scientists with a clearer idea about it.
The newly presented image by scientists features the Sputnik Planum, which is basically the western lobe of the planet’s center that doesn’t have any crater. For NASA scientist, this finding is quite surprising. They are saying that Sputnik Planum can only result from ongoing geologic processes, which require a heat source to take place; smaller heavenly bodies like Pluto usually do not have so much heat.