Home News 7 surprising things we’ve already learned about Pluto and its moons

7 surprising things we’ve already learned about Pluto and its moons

BY Miriam Kramer, Mashable.com,July 18, 2015 – NASA’s New Horizons probe only flew by Pluto on Tuesday, but we’re already learning brand new things about the dwarf planet and its moons thanks to the piano-sized probe.

Well before the Tuesday flyby, New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern predicted that Pluto would be surprising, and the small planet didn’t disappoint the team of scientists. The first

NASA’s New Horizons probe only flew by Pluto on Tuesday, but we’re already learning brand new things about the dwarf planet and its moons thanks to the piano-sized probe.

Well before the Tuesday flyby, New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern predicted that Pluto would be surprising, and the small planet didn’t disappoint the team of scientists. The first close-up images of Pluto revealed a world filled with a diverse landscape of mountains, craters and in at least one section, a mysteriously young surface, which could suggest a geologically active dwarf planet.

SEE ALSO: Hello, Pluto: The 9-year journey to a new horizon

Faith Based Events

“I think the whole system is amazing, and my prediction written 20 years ago on a little slip of paper held in a manila envelope since 1993 was proven right by New Horizons,” Stern said in a news conference Wednesday. “The Pluto system is something wonderful.”

Here are some of the amazing discoveries New Horizons has made so far:

Pluto has ice mountains

Scientists made an amazing discovery in the first close-up image of Pluto beamed back after New Horizons’ flyby: The dwarf planet actually contains mountains made of ice that tower as high as parts of the Rockies — 11,000 feet.

The newly-released image revealing the mountains shows the cliffs jutting out of the planet near the bottom of its distinctive heart-shaped feature.

New Horizons scientists have a pretty good idea that the cliffs are made of water-ice because of the composition of the rest of the solar system.

Generally, silicate rock and water appear to be some of the building blocks of the solid worlds we study in the solar system, and because of Pluto’s mass, researchers think that its rock is actually more deeply embedded in its center, making ice the most likely composition of the mountains, New Horizons scientist John Spencer said.

Pluto’s surface is also extremely cold, at about minus-387 degrees Fahrenheit, allowing ice formations to grow to extreme sizes.

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