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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

The Conservation Alliance

Imaging Pluto
Hugh Bollinger

Imaging Pluto

 

Backlit Pluto with blue nitrogen atmosphere halo (credit: New Horizons)

 

Images captured by NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto produced discoveries that beat the best of expectations. Several photographs were captured from a different perspective as the spacecraft looked at Pluto as it sped away from the small planet. The space probe's camera applied backlit photography which can provide more details than might be expected.

                       Backlit Pluto (credit: New Horizons)

According to NASA, the New Horizons spacecraft: "looked back towards the sun and captured a near-sunset view of the rugged, icy mountains and flat ice plains extending to Pluto’s horizon. The smooth expanse of icy plain (right) is flanked by rugged mountains up to 11,000 feet high. To the right, rougher terrain is cut by apparent glaciers."

                                Pluto's mountains and frozen plains (credit: New Horizons)

NASA researchers concluded that the images highlight the intricate flow lines of glaciers (probably frozen nitrogen) with the flow fronts of the moving ice outlined by blue arrows. The the glacier originates from Pluto’s mountains through 2-5 mile wide valleys.

                              Pluto's frozen nitrogen glaciers (credit: New Horizons)

Much of of the New Horizons imagery and data and imagery is still be interpreted. However, a video reviews some of the mission's wow-worthy discoveries. WHB


 

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