January 10, 2016

"The first images released in 2016 of Pluto by NASA’s New Horizons mission team show the direction of flowing ice on the dwarf planet’s surface, along with terrain patterns that suggest thermal convection is taking place on the icy surface of the area known as Sputnik Planum."

Spaceflight Insider: Mission scientists combined images taken by New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) with color photos taken by the spacecraft’s Ralph Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) to create a composite image (above) of a region to the left of Sputnik Planum known as Viking Terra. by Laurel Kornfeld

'The LORRI device acquired the images from a distance of 31,000 miles (49,000 km) of features as small as 1,600 feet (480 meters) across; the MVIC instrument obtained the images from a distance of 21,000 miles (34,000 km) at a resolution of 2,100 feet (650 meters) per pixel.

'Both the LORRI and MVIC images were taken on encounter day, July 14, 2015, with the MVIC photos captured about 20 minutes after those snapped by LORRI.

'By overlaying MVIC’s color data on top of LORRI’s mosaic, scientists can see significant detail across the 160-mile (250-km) region, including crater rims covered with bright methane ices, layering along both crater walls and steep cliffs, and dark red tholins in low-lying areas. The bright ices likely condensed on the crater rims.

'Tholins are small, dark particles produced by atmospheric reactions of nitrogen and methane. In Viking Terra, they are seen at the bottoms of craters.'

No comments: