NASA New Horizons probe reveals icy mountains on Pluto: Five facts about Pluto flyby
NASAâ€™s New Horizons probe has entered a space that was never conquered by humans. This area was the least explored by humans and their probes and now with the latest Pluto New Horizons flyby we are going to get some more clue about the environment and weather on this icy dwarf planet.
Till merely just over two decades ago this dwarf planet was accepted as the ninth planet of our solar system. But things changed when it was realized that many more and far bigger objects were there that had more weight to be called full planet. Eris is one such heavenly body and so in the year 1992 the planet was downgraded as dwarf planet.
There is no denying the fact that the Pluto New Horizons flyby is a sort of milestone as far as space exploration is concerned. While the humans had already sent spaceships and probes to all planets in the solar system, this area got the least attention. So now we have conquered one more frontier. Long before the NASAâ€™s New Horizons conquered Pluto, the humans had conquered Jupiter’s Great Red Spot; Saturn’s rings and moons; Mars’ distinct red hue; and the rich blue of Neptune.
New Horizons spaceship has traversed billions of miles till now. NASA’s New Horizons mission began its life as a New Frontiers program in 2001, but didn’t get the necessary funding and traction until 2003. Finally it was in the year 2006 when the New Horizons was pitched as a Kuiper Belt Pluto Explorer program and started. Reports suggest that it is actually the first mission to study a Kuiper Belt Object and the first to study Pluto in detail.
NASA scientists believe that the probe is going to help distinguish the relationship between Pluto and Charon as it could be redefined as a double planet — Charon is half the size of Pluto and the known moons orbit the common center of mass of these objects. The spaceship is equipped with advanced scientific instruments and powerful cameras.
1- Pluto was among the last to be discovered in the solar system
Pluto was discovered as late as 1930. Evidence of the planet that was downgraded as dwarf planet later first came through 24-year-old research assistant Clyde Tombaugh at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.
2- A very young space enthusiast gave the name Pluto
This must come as surprize to many, but the name Pluto was given to the dwarf planet by a very young girl. Venetia Burney proposed the name after the Roman god of the Underworld.
3- New Horizons spaceship cost $700 million
There is no denying the fact that the New Horizons spaceship is very costly. The New Horizons probe cost $700 million yet, weighing in at 1,000 pounds, is only the size of a grand piano. It completed the nine-year, 3-billion mile journey to Pluto on Tuesday morning, whizzing about 6,000 ft.
4- Pluto has strong gas
This may come as surprise to many space enthusiasts. That isnâ€™t Uranus youâ€™re smelling, folks: NASA scientists have confirmed theyâ€™ve found nitrogen seeping out of Plutoâ€™s atmosphere. The nitro showed up a full four days earlier than the team had expected, which suggests Pluto could be losing its atmosphere faster than previously believed.
5- Pluto is more icy than the word icy can describe
There is no denying the fact that Pluto is ice and more ice. New Horizons has revealed that Plutoâ€™s so-called polar cap is actually made up of ice â€” frozen methane and nitrogen, to be specific.