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Stunning new Pluto photos: See mountains, sunset, wispy atmosphere

A fantastic new picture from NASA’s New Horizons booster shows Pluto in an wholly new light.

The photo, that New Horizons took during a epic Jul 14 flyby of Pluto, captures a beautiful nightfall view. Towering ice plateau expel prolonged shadows, and some-more than a dozen layers of a dwarf planet’s wispy atmosphere are clearly visible.

“This picture unequivocally creates we feel we are there, during Pluto, contemplating a landscape for yourself,” New Horizons principal questioner Alan Stern, of a Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, pronounced in a matter currently (Sept. 17). “But this picture is also a systematic bonanza, divulgence new sum about Pluto’s atmosphere, mountains, glaciers and plains.” [See some-more Pluto photos by New Horizons]

New Horizons prisoner a panorama, that covers a widen of land 780 miles (1,250 kilometers) across, regulating a probe’s wide-angle Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera on Jul 14, only 15 mins after closest proceed to Pluto.

The booster incited behind and looked toward a sun, gnawing a print during a stretch of only 11,000 miles (18,000 km) from a dwarf planet, NASA officials said. (At closest approach, New Horizons was about 7,800 miles, or 12,550 km, from Pluto’s surface.)

The outcome was a new viewpoint on Pluto’s Norgay Montes and Hillary Montes, dual ranges of ice plateau that arise adult to 11,000 feet (3,500 meters) above a dwarf planet’s wintry surface. The backlit print also reveals new sum about Pluto’s nitrogen-dominated atmosphere, display many opposite layers, fluctuating from ground-bound haze to wispy tendrils some-more than 60 miles (100 km) up.

“In further to being visually stunning, these low-lying hazes spirit during a continue changing from day to day on Pluto, only like it does here on Earth,” Will Grundy, personality of New Horizons’ combination group from Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, pronounced in the same statement.

The new scenery and other recently downloaded New Horizons images also strew light on how ice — likely done of nitrogen and other materials rather than H2O — flows into a vast, prosaic freezing plain famous as Sputnik Planum. Some of Sputnik Planum’s ice apparently evaporates, gets deposited in a segment of severe turf to a easterly and afterwards flows behind down into a plain as glaciers, around a complement of valleys.

These glaciers are identical to those seen in Greenland and Antarctica here on Earth, researchers said.

“We did not design to find hints of a nitrogen-based freezing cycle on Pluto handling in a wintry conditions of a outdoor solar system,” pronounced Alan Howard of a University of Virginia, a member of a mission’s geology, geophysics and imaging team. “Driven by low sunlight, this would be directly allied to a hydrological cycle that feeds ice caps on Earth, where H2O is evaporated from a oceans, falls as sleet and earnings to a seas by freezing flow.”

“Pluto is surprisingly Earth-like in this regard, and no one likely it,” Stern added.

New Horizons beamed a new backlit scenery home to goal control on Sunday (Sept. 13), and NASA expelled a print today.

The universe can design to see many some-more overwhelming new views from a Pluto flyby over a entrance year or so. New Horizons relayed only 5 percent of a flyby information behind in a evident issue of a tighten encounter, gripping a immeasurable infancy on house for after transmission. That information dump began in aspiring progressing this month and is approaching to take about 12 months, New Horizons group members have said.

Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @SpacedotcomFacebook or Google+. Originally published on Space.com.

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Article source: http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2015/0918/Stunning-new-Pluto-photos-See-mountains-sunset-wispy-atmosphere