Pluto is amazing scientists who had expected surprises, but no the kind of surprises that are coming from the new data.
NASA’s New Horizon’s probe has done more than just take a pretty shot of former planet Pluto — it’s also revealing some amazing new details about what was once considered our ninth planet.
After New Horizons blasted past Pluto on July 14, scientists expected to see some amazing things, but what they found was even more incredible than they expect: Pluto is a very active piece of rock in our solar system that has an evolving world and is not just a static piece of rock, according to a Globe and Mail report.
Alan Stern, the principal investigator for the mission, said that Pluto is a lot more complicated than expected, with images the indicate recent geological formations on it, and evidence that the cosmic rock has a very active interior.
Pluto has some similarities to Earth: it has a transparent atmosphere that is mostly composed of nitrogen gas. However, Pluto doesn’t have much gravity, which means the atmosphere is lost to space.
An internal source is likely to be the cause of what is seen, which would explain Pluto’s land forms and the fact that the surface doesn’t bare much evidence of craters, as you would expect of a planet that doesn’t have much activity and therefore would be bombarded by rocks hurtling at it from space.
Scientists therefore think there is a volatile layer underneath the surface of it that would result in vents and chasms. While no direct evidence has been found yet, that evidence may be coming soon.
The new pictures of Pluto are amazing, but perhaps the most interesting data will come from other sources: the spacecraft will be taking a look at the other side of Pluto as it flies by.
These results could come as soon as Friday, although it is expected that months will pass before scientists receive the full amount of data from New Horizons in order to get a complete picture of the planet.