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On The Verge Of Pluto: Interview With New Horizons Co-Investigator Michael Summers

9 Jul 2015, 23:51 UTC
On The Verge Of Pluto: Interview With New Horizons Co-Investigator Michael Summers
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NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is currently approaching the Pluto, in what will be the first ever close encounter with the dwarf planet. The spacecraft is scheduled to pass within 7,800 miles of the dwarf planet during its closest approach on July 14. New Horizons co-investigator Michael Summers spoke with Penny4NASA just days ahead of the upcoming flyby of Pluto.

What were you most surprised about from the New Horizons data that has been collected thus far?

“Every day we see new things in the images, and every time it’s more surprising! But the highly varied topography on Pluto, and the polar dark region on Charon
are very intriguing!”

Why is the atmosphere for Pluto so much larger than Earth?

“Pluto has a much lower surface gravity than that of Earth, by a factor of about 15. So Pluto’s holds onto its atmosphere much more weakly than the Earth, and so it extends much further into space.”

From the images gathered so far – Pluto appears to share similar colors with Mars – could you comment on why Pluto appears in these colors?

“The color of Pluto is the subject of much discussion and debate. The simplest answer is that it ...

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