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NASA Probe Approaches Pluto

NASA Probe Approaches Pluto

NASA Probe Approaches Pluto

NASA Probe Approaches Pluto

NASA Probe Approaches Pluto

NASA’s New Horizons probe’s has started to give scientists some real excitement as new photos have been beamed back to Earth.

The pictures show a vast band of patterned terrain stretching around the globe for roughly 1,500km when they were taken.

On Tuesday the probe will be just 12,500km above the surface, and at that point, its telescopic camera, will be taking pictures at a resolution better than 100m per pixel.

The above picture was taken on Thursday when New Horizons was still 5.4 million km from its target, with a the resolution is 27km per pixel.

Pluto whale feature

From this distance scientists have named one feature “the whale”. While not visible anymore, it will come back around, and will be the face shown to New Horizons at it’s closest approach.

New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern, “Among the structures tentatively identified in this new image are what appear to be polygonal features; a complex band of terrain stretching east-northeast across the planet, approximately 1,000 miles long; and a complex region where bright terrains meet the dark terrains of the whale.”

New Horizons left Earth back in 2006 and it will gather hundreds of pictures and other research data as it flies by Pluto and its five moons: Charon, Nix, Styx, Kerberos and Hydra.

The hard part for the probe is the difficulty in getting all that information back to Earth. The distance back to earth is more than 4.7 billion km.

The NASA team plans on it taking 16 months to return all the data from the flyby.




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