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Astrobiology in New Zealand

What’s up Pluto?

7 Jan 2017, 08:54 UTC
What’s up Pluto?
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Fame, neglect, demotion and love. What a dramatic decade it has been for Pluto. From its discovery in 1930 way out in the Kuiper belt, this dwarf planet has been on quite the roller coaster. Last year it revealed its heart and stole ours back.
New Horizons’ 2015 fly by gave us snapshots that we all fell in love with. Pluto surprised us by showing us more than than the fuzzy patches Hubble gave us back in 2010.
Hubble Telescope photographs from 2002-2003, published in 2010. Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Buie (Southwest Research Institute).
[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0xkupKwjfM[/embedyt]
Here’s my top 5 favourites of what we know now:

There is more water ice spread across Pluto than we thought.

The Ralph/Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA) aboard New Horizons observed Pluto’s surface from a range of 108,000 km to show areas where water ice is most abundant as well as possibly detecting areas that are depleted in methane. LEISA detects infrared light and analyses the different patterns that each molecule creates. This gives us better insight into the distribution of how much methane (CH4), nitrogen (N2), carbon monoxide (CO), and water (H2O) is on Pluto’s surface. This is an important discovery ...

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