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The Beating Heart(-Shaped Region) of Pluto

14 Feb 2020, 13:41 UTC
The Beating Heart(-Shaped Region) of Pluto
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Title: Pluto’s Beating Heart Regulates the Atmospheric Circulation: Results From High‐Resolution and Multiyear Numerical Climate SimulationsAuthors: T. Bertrand, F. Forget, O. White, B. Schmitt, S. A. Stern, H. A. Weaver, L. A. Young, K. Ennico, C. B. Olkin, and the New Horizons Science TeamFirst Author’s Institution: Ames Research Center, Space Science Division, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Moffett Field, CA, USAStatus: Published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets [open access]Pluto “hearts” usIn 2015, hours before the New Horizons spacecraft made its closest approach to Pluto, the probe took a high resolution photo (Figure 1), sent it back to Earth, and forever changed our view of the mysterious (dwarf) planet.

Figure 1. An image of Pluto taken by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) aboard NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, hours before the probe made its closest approach. Image Credit: NASA/JHU APL/SwRI
The stunning heart-shaped region in the image has been officially named “Tombaugh Regio” after Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930 (ninety years ago!). Further images showed that the left side of the heart, named “Sputnik Planitia” after the first artificial satellite, is much younger than the other side of the heart. In fact, geological studies suggested that ...

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