APOD: 50 Miles on Pluto (2015 Jul 16)

Comments and questions about the APOD on the main view screen.
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APOD: 50 Miles on Pluto (2015 Jul 16)

Post by APOD Robot » Thu Jul 16, 2015 4:09 am

Image 50 Miles on Pluto

Explanation: A 50 mile (80 kilometer) trip across Pluto would cover the distance indicated by the scale bar in this startling image. The close-up of the icy world's rugged equatorial terrain was captured when the New Horizons spacecraft was about 47,800 miles (77,000 kilometers) from the surface, 1.5 hours before its closest approach. Rising to an estimated 11,000 feet (3,500 meters) the mountains are likely composed of water ice. Suggesting surprising geological activity, they are also likely young with an estimated age of 100 million years or so based on the apparent absence of craters. The region pictured is near the base of Pluto's broad, bright, heart-shaped feature.

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Re: APOD: 50 Miles on Pluto (2015 Jul 16)

Post by geckzilla » Thu Jul 16, 2015 5:07 am

Yes, gosh darn it, as long as 'Murica is the one sending out the probes, we're going to use miles. :lol2:
Just call me "geck" because "zilla" is like a last name.

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Re: APOD: 50 Miles on Pluto (2015 Jul 16)

Post by Nitpicker » Thu Jul 16, 2015 5:08 am

Wow. Just wow. And my understanding is that we might soon see a few select shots with up to six times this resolution.

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Re: APOD: 50 Miles on Pluto (2015 Jul 16)

Post by Ann » Thu Jul 16, 2015 5:21 am

A Swedish tabloid claimed there is snow (I guess ice) on the mountaintops of Pluto. Any thoughts?

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Re: APOD: 50 Miles on Pluto (2015 Jul 16)

Post by Chris Peterson » Thu Jul 16, 2015 5:23 am

APOD Robot wrote:Suggesting surprising geological activity, they are also likely young with an estimated age of 100 million years or so based on the apparent absence of craters.
Actually, I think the estimate is for a maximum age of 100 million years, with no bounds yet on how much younger the surface might be (at least until some craters are observed).
Chris

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Re: APOD: 50 Miles on Pluto (2015 Jul 16)

Post by ceelias » Thu Jul 16, 2015 5:53 am

My understanding is that Jupiter forces many objects to be diverted inwards, towards Mars, Earth, Venus and Mercury.
Since Pluto is not affected by Jupiters gravity forcing objects towards Pluto, would the rate of cratering on Pluto be significantly less than that observed on the inner (rocky) planets?

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Re: APOD: 50 Miles on Pluto (2015 Jul 16)

Post by Nitpicker » Thu Jul 16, 2015 6:07 am

ceelias wrote:My understanding is that Jupiter forces many objects to be diverted inwards, towards Mars, Earth, Venus and Mercury.
Since Pluto is not affected by Jupiters gravity forcing objects towards Pluto, would the rate of cratering on Pluto be significantly less than that observed on the inner (rocky) planets?
My understanding is almost opposite. During the formation of the solar system, the inner portion was awash with projectiles, and there were great periods of bombardment, which created the vast bulk of the craters we observe throughout the solar system. But as the solar system matured, the gas giants migrated into new orbits, which created all sorts of resonances along the way, which had the effect of slinging most of the smaller projectiles to the outer reaches of the solar system, leaving the inner parts much safer today. One could say that the gas giants (are some of the things that) make the inner solar system habitable.

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Re: APOD: 50 Miles on Pluto (2015 Jul 16)

Post by Hengchun » Thu Jul 16, 2015 7:24 am

Amazing to me that with the sun so far away from Pluto, it still is able to cast such deep dark shadows.

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Re: APOD: 50 Miles on Pluto (2015 Jul 16)

Post by Chris Peterson » Thu Jul 16, 2015 7:33 am

Hengchun wrote:Amazing to me that with the sun so far away from Pluto, it still is able to cast such deep dark shadows.
Well, keep in mind that images like this usually have their contrast stretched. So what we're seeing here might look less contrasty to our eyes. Hard to say until we have a chance to look at raw data.
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Re: APOD: 50 Miles on Pluto (2015 Jul 16)

Post by Craine » Thu Jul 16, 2015 11:34 am

geckzilla wrote:Yes, gosh darn it, as long as 'Murica is the one sending out the probes, we're going to use miles. :lol2:
And crash probes in the Martian desert? :oops:

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Re: APOD: 50 Miles on Pluto (2015 Jul 16)

Post by tetrodehead » Thu Jul 16, 2015 11:39 am

The striations running top left to bottom right in the lower right quadrant seem interesting.
Are they natural, earth-like features or processing details?

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Re: APOD: 50 Miles on Pluto (2015 Jul 16)

Post by Craine » Thu Jul 16, 2015 11:58 am

Ann wrote:A Swedish tabloid claimed there is snow (I guess ice) on the mountaintops of Pluto. Any thoughts?

Ann
From what I read that is not water ice, but rather Nitrogen ice with traces of Methane and carbon dioxide.
Apparently the surface temperature is cold enough for solid nitrogen, but due to a methane greenhouse effect it can be gaseous higher up the thin atmosphere. As a result it may even 'rain' or 'snow' nitrogen. This could explain some of the smooth surfaces seen.

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Re: APOD: 50 Miles on Pluto (2015 Jul 16)

Post by emc » Thu Jul 16, 2015 12:40 pm

Next mission to Pluto will be carrying Popeye’s nemesis Bluto. Yes, Popeye finally did Bluto in and only fittingly stuffed him in a spinach can. The mission plans to eject the can containing Bluto onto Pluto during its close flyby.

Olive Oil was quoted as saying, “Oh dear, with Bluto on Pluto, I hope Popeye won’t take me for granted!”... Olive says she plans to start wearing more green.

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Re: APOD: 50 Miles on Pluto (2015 Jul 16)

Post by bls0326 » Thu Jul 16, 2015 12:44 pm

I would guess that Pluto's eccentric orbit results in a long cold, cold "winter" and a long less-cold "summer". Could result in freeze, thaw, evaporate, rain cycle of different materials throughout Pluto's year??

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Re: APOD: 50 Miles on Pluto (2015 Jul 16)

Post by tomatoherd » Thu Jul 16, 2015 1:06 pm

I read through yesterday's comments, and didn't find an answer: Since both the Charon and Pluto photographs are shot pretty much face-on (sunward facing), I presume New Horizons must have passed by on a trajectory radially outwards from the inner solar system, but almost aimed directly AT Pluto et al, with cameras at its leading surface. For it doesn't sound like it would still possess fuel to change trajectories at this stage in the process, e.g to curve and pass in front of them.
And did it pass between the two?
thanks.

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Re: APOD: 50 Miles on Pluto (2015 Jul 16)

Post by BMAONE23 » Thu Jul 16, 2015 1:29 pm

Craine wrote:
geckzilla wrote:Yes, gosh darn it, as long as 'Murica is the one sending out the probes, we're going to use miles. :lol2:
And crash probes in the Martian desert? :oops:
WIKI wrote:Starting in 1960 the Soviets launched a series of probes to Mars inluding the intended first flybys and hard (impact) landing (Mars 1962B).[9] The first successful fly-by of Mars was on July 14–15, 1965, by NASA's Mariner 4.[10] On November 14, 1971 Mariner 9 became the first space probe to orbit another planet when it entered into orbit around Mars.[11] The amount of data returned by probes increased dramatically as technology improved.[9]

The first to contact the surface were two Soviet probes: Mars 2 lander on November 27 and Mars 3 lander on December 2, 1971—Mars 2 failed during descent and Mars 3 about twenty seconds after the first Martian soft landing.[12] Mars 6 failed during descent but did return some corrupted atmospheric data in 1974. [13] The 1975 NASA launches of the Viking program consisted of two orbiters, each with a lander that successfully soft landed in 1976. Viking 1 remained operational for six years, Viking 2 for three. The Viking landers relayed the first color panoramas of Mars[14] and the Viking orbiters mapped the surface so well that the images remain in use.

The Soviet probes Phobos 1 and 2 were sent to Mars in 1988 to study Mars and its two moons, with a focus on Phobos. Phobos 1 lost contact on the way to Mars. Phobos 2, while successfully photographing Mars and Phobos, failed before it was set to release two landers to the surface of Phobos.[15]

Roughly two-thirds of all spacecraft destined for Mars have failed without completing their missions, and it has a reputation as difficult space exploration target.[16] Missions that ended prematurely after Phobos 1 & 2 (1988) include Mars Observer (Launched in 1992), Mars 96 (1996), Mars Climate Orbiter (1999), Mars Polar Lander with Deep Space 2 (1999), Nozomi (2003), Beagle 2 (2003), and Fobos-Grunt with Yinghuo-1
Mars observer............NASA...Lost contact prior to orbital insertion
Mars 96.....................Russia...Launch failure
Mars Climate orbited...NASA...Lost contact at orbital insertion due to computer glitch metric vs imperial measurements
Mars Polar Lander.......NASA...Lost from early engine cutout probably metric vs imperial measurements
Nozomi......................JAXA...Electrical Failure
Beagle 2....................ESA...Failed to deploy solar panels
Photos Grunt..............Russia...Launch failure

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Re: APOD: 50 Miles on Pluto (2015 Jul 16)

Post by Craine » Thu Jul 16, 2015 1:43 pm

Metric system for the win! :D

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Re: APOD: 50 Miles on Pluto (2015 Jul 16)

Post by NGC3314 » Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:06 pm

tomatoherd wrote:I read through yesterday's comments, and didn't find an answer: Since both the Charon and Pluto photographs are shot pretty much face-on (sunward facing), I presume New Horizons must have passed by on a trajectory radially outwards from the inner solar system, but almost aimed directly AT Pluto et al, with cameras at its leading surface. For it doesn't sound like it would still possess fuel to change trajectories at this stage in the process, e.g to curve and pass in front of them.
And did it pass between the two?
Indeed the trajectory is almost radial to the Sun, and the Pluto system's gravity mode only a tiny change. The New York Times has an animated diagram, for example. I didn't realize this at first, but NH passed opposite Charon - probably because of constraints needed to get both objects to occult the Sun and radio signals from Earth for atmospheric measurements.

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Re: APOD: 50 Miles on Pluto (2015 Jul 16)

Post by neufer » Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:28 pm


NGC3314 wrote:
NH passed opposite Charon - probably because of constraints needed to get both objects to occult the Sun and radio signals from Earth for atmospheric measurements.
NH passed opposite Charon near the unstable orbit Lagrange L3 point to best avoid damaging debris.

NH could also have waited for Charon to come around and have passed near the unstable orbit Lagrange L2 point and still get both objects to occult the Sun and radio signals from Earth for atmospheric measurements. That way NH would have observed the opposite sides of Charon & Pluto with very high resolution of Charon and a good view of the Charon-lit dark side of Pluto. (Maybe the next time.)
Last edited by neufer on Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: APOD: 50 Miles on Pluto (2015 Jul 16)

Post by Ron-Astro Pharmacist » Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:32 pm

The Nova last night was a nice overview of the New Horizons project start to finish. Except that it still may have new objects to investigate. I haven't heard how it will navigate to the next target. Chance encounter? Or was it directed into areas of the highest density of TNO's.
Objects.jpg
Also looking forward to seeing a close-up of the entire planet though it's hard to image from what illumination angle it will be viewed during the parting images. Thanks NGC3314 – that link helps visualize its trajectory.
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Re: APOD: 50 Miles on Pluto (2015 Jul 16)

Post by Craine » Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:42 pm

Ron-Astro Pharmacist wrote:The Nova last night was a nice overview of the New Horizons project start to finish. Except that it still may have new objects to investigate. I haven't heard how it will navigate to the next target. Chance encounter? Or was it directed into areas of the highest density of TNO's.
Objects.jpg
Also looking forward to seeing a close-up of the entire planet though it's hard to image from what illumination angle it will be viewed during the parting images. Thanks NGC3314 – that link helps visualize its trajectory.
There is some stuff on Wikipedia about potential future targets:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Horiz ... objectives

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Re: APOD: 50 Miles on Pluto (2015 Jul 16)

Post by TrulyKannadiga » Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:44 pm

Hello! Namaskara from Tumkur, Karnataka. Since 3 years I regularly visit apod and I love it. Seeing pluto in this detail is really mindblowing!! Thank you apod, you guys are doing amazing!!

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Re: APOD: 50 Miles on Pluto (2015 Jul 16)

Post by Chris Peterson » Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:50 pm

Ron-Astro Pharmacist wrote:I haven't heard how it will navigate to the next target. Chance encounter? Or was it directed into areas of the highest density of TNO's.
There are no areas of high density. The region is still substantially empty. If you depended on chance, you could spend thousands of years and never come close to anything at all. But there are enough objects in different orbits that you only need to make a fairly small course correction to cross paths with one- and that's the plan.
Chris

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Re: APOD: 50 Miles on Pluto (2015 Jul 16)

Post by henrystar » Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:12 pm

When will there be a human colony on Pluto?

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Re: APOD: 50 Miles on Pluto (2015 Jul 16)

Post by neufer » Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:30 pm


henrystar wrote:
When will there be a human colony on Pluto?
When the Sun is ~1000 times more luminous
such that Pluto is in the habitable zone :?:
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