Taxonomy term

new horizons

Pluto's surprising dunes

Images and data sent back by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft during its flyby mission to Pluto (and beyond) show a series of regularly spaced linear ridges sandwiched between a mountain range and Sputnik Planitia, a vast plain of nitrogen, carbon monoxide and methane ice. “When we first saw the New Horizons images, we thought instantly that these were dunes, but it was really surprising because we know there is not much of an atmosphere [on Pluto],” said Jani Radebaugh, a planetary scientist at Brigham Young University and co-author of a study in Science announcing the findings, in a statement.

10 Oct 2018

Pluto may still have liquid ocean

Last year, images from NASA’s New Horizons flyby of Pluto revealed geologic activity that suggested a liquid ocean may have once lurked beneath the dwarf planet’s icy crust. But whether it still exists in that state, or had frozen, remained a question. According to a new study published in Geophysical Research Letters, it may still be partially liquid.

14 Nov 2016

Convection formed Pluto's polygons

Among Pluto’s peculiar surface features, many of which were first seen just last year when NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft zipped by the dwarf planet, are polygon-shaped rises covering parts of a large equatorial basin known as Sputnik Planum. The basin is known to be filled mainly with ices of nitrogen, methane and carbon monoxide, but the origin of the polygons has been debated. In a pair of new studies published in Nature, two teams of researchers now attribute the distinctive shapes to convection within underlying layers of frozen nitrogen.

24 Oct 2016

A journey to Pluto and beyond with New Horizons

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, the first mission to Pluto, will reach the former planet on July 14, 2015. After that, it will fly by the Kuiper Belt to explore the most distant bodies in the solar system.

22 Mar 2015