Latest Weather Update from Pluto: Hazy with a chance of Ice Flows

Friday’s science update from the New Horizons team shed some more light on the seemingly endless jaw-dropping discoveries from the Pluto system.  We have found a surprising atmosphere and very cold ice flows, contributing to a surprisingly active geology for an object that receives so little sunlight.  Seven hours after the craft made its closest approach of Pluto, it turned around and took a backlit shot, revealing two distinct layers of hazy atmosphere at 80 Km and 50 Km above the surface respectively.

New Horizons image showing atmospheric haze layers from Pluto. Credit: NASA / New Horizons

It looks more like an eclipse photograph from much closer to home, but it shows a hauntingly gorgeous silhouette of Pluto from beyond the planet, a view never seen before.

The next big science update goes back to the heart region of Pluto, with mountain ranges and icy plains, scientists have discovered flowing ice on the surface.  The effects of flowing ice are clearly visible, and its likely that ice is still shifting around in a manner similar to glaciers back on Earth.

Ice flows on Pluto at the edge of the heart. A truly active world. Credit: NASA / New Horizons

I love the new science, but like I’ve, I love data visualization, and so my favourite new release from NASA is this simulation of flying over the icy plains and mountains of Pluto.

Now if that doesn’t make you feel like you’ve travelled along with New Horizons, I don’t know what will.

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