The New Horizons spacecraft made its initial close approach with Pluto and its moons in July 2015. It went on to investigate the solar system’s cold edge, gathering a plethora of information as it went.
The New Horizons crew has been combing through data to unravel riddles regarding Pluto and the smaller worlds in our solar system. On March 14, the researchers presented their recent report at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas. They announced not one, but 3 key findings during the meeting. Because it lies so far from the Sun, this two-lobed object has always been solid.
New Horizons Probe Reveals Pluto’s Secrets
According to astronomers, it is composed of two entities that originally orbited each other prior to softly merging into one.
On January 1, 2019, the spacecraft performed the Arrokoth flyby. The current investigation into the primordial structure of Arrokoth has provided new information regarding the “bigger mounds just on larger lobe.” They determined that the lobe is made up of 12 separate clumped mounds. One unusual result during the flyby was the presence of extensive swathes of jagged landforms. The buildings observed towards the edge of the hemisphere are assumed to be totally formed of methane ice.
The team believes the bladed topography is caused by Pluto’s fluctuating climate. These bladed terrains, according to the results, could also be present in other sections of a dwarf planet. Studying these features could provide us with further information about Pluto’s geologic dynamics.
Another New Horizons study shed information on Pluto’s past. Pluto, like Earth, has been discovered to have turned on its side early in its existence. Scientists are still trying to figure out the extent to which the poles shifted. Yet, it is depicted by the longitude and latitude of surface features. To get to their conclusions, they thoroughly investigated Pluto’s mass distribution. They also discovered surface realignment when analyzing Sputnik Planitia, a heart-shaped region on Pluto’s surface.