Tuesday, July 14, 2015

NASA probe discovers the 'heart' of Pluto

New Horizons spacecraft gets closer and closer to Pluto and as it does capture historical images. One of the last photographs revealed a nearly perfect heart on the surface of the dwarf planet. It will also catch a few bright spots that can be icecaps.

"It's easy to imagine you're seeing familiar forms in this strange collection of dark and bright images. However, it is too early to know what these things really are,” said John Spencer of Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado (EE .S.). 

But scientists hope that these mysteries are resolved in the coming days, when the ship comes close on July 14 to 12,500 km of Pluto.

New Horizons was launched from Cape Canaveral in 2006 and began a journey of almost 10 years, becoming the first spacecraft to explore this remote frontier. "We are reaching the culmination of all this effort, all this planning," said Joe Peterson, leader of the scientific mission operations.

The unmanned spacecraft, a cost of 700 million, has seven sophisticated scientific instruments and cameras are compiling data daily and sending them to Earth."The tools available in New Horizons are designed to work together to give us an overview of the system Pluto, "said Cathy Olkin, deputy project scientist. There are three optical instruments, two of plasmas, a dust sensor and a scientific radio receiver.

Together they will help scientists to study the geology of Pluto, its surface composition, temperature and atmosphere and its five moons. Images, blurred and pixelated, they began arriving in April and May, when the spacecraft was millions of kilometers from their destination. After a brief system failure ship safely entered the 4th of July. The best images took them three days later.  In one of them appears similar to a heart shape.

"I love it," Olkin said, noting that the form could be due to ice. "We know that there is ice on Pluto, and we hope that these ice look brighter, "he said. Loa data collected in the coming days should provide more clues about the composition of the surface of Pluto, as well as its size.

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