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New Horizons Reaches Pluto – Part 2

20 Jul 2015, 07:01 UTC
New Horizons Reaches Pluto – Part 2
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

The images have arrived. Credit goes to NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI. Follow those links if you’re curious about all the acronyms. Obviously, this was a team project. If you haven’t seen New Horizons Reaches Pluto – Part 1, you might want to read that post first to see how far we’ve come. Data and images will continue streaming in over the next couple weeks, as they need to be transmitted at a mere 2 kbs to reliably traverse the 7.5 billion km (4.7 billion miles) distance back to Earth.

There’s dozens of images posted on the New Horizons page at NASA, if you want to see more. I’ve selected four of special interest. Above is Pluto, showing the famous “heart shaped” feature, now named Tombaugh Regio in honor of its discoverer Clyde Tombaugh. This image was taken from a distance of 768,000 km (476,000 miles), 16 hours before closest approach on July 14.
Pluto’s diameter is now known to be 2370 km (1473 miles), and its density 2.03 g/cm3 (compared to rocky Earth’s 5.51 g/cm3). This confirms the long-held theory that Pluto consists largely of ices (water, carbon dioxide, methane, ammonia, and nitrogen). The temperature ranges from -233 to -223 °C (-387 ...

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