Rabat - NASA revealed the first-ever high-resolution photos taken of Pluto on Wednesday, providing many answers and surprises to scientists.
Rabat – NASA revealed the first-ever high-resolution photos taken of Pluto on Wednesday, providing many answers and surprises to scientists.
After a mission lasting more than nine years, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft finally sent images back to Earth of the former planet and its moon, Charon, providing information more astounding than anyone could have imagined.
“New Horizons is returning amazing results already. The data look absolutely gorgeous, and Pluto and Charon are just mind blowing,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons’ principal investigator, who describes the new images as a “home run.”
Among the many surprises New Horizons has already provided, the pictures displayed a giant range of mountains made of water ice, as well as evidence that geological activity is still taking place on Pluto’s surface.
“Water ice is strong enough to hold up big mountains and that’s what we think we’re seeing here. This is the first time we’ve seen this,” Stern stated.
The images also settled the long-standing debate regarding Pluto’s size, confirming that it is larger than all solar system objects beyond planet Neptune. Indications put Pluto at 2,370 kilometers (1,473 miles) in diameter; bigger than previous estimations. This information, however, does not reclassify Pluto as a planet.
Stern described the images as “frankly just skimming the surface” of what information is still to come within the year. Scientists announced that even more stunning photos would be released in a news briefing on Friday.