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Author Topic: Enter Pluto: The First Visit by a Spacecraft to this Dark, Cold World  (Read 2570 times)

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Offline Sir Percival the GallantTopic starter

Back in 2006, the spacecraft New Horizons left Earth, bound for Pluto, at that time still considered a planet. After almost ten years and about five billion kilometres, the spacecraft will reach Pluto next week for a flyby. I'm a huge astronomy geek (I originally wanted to be an astronomer, but I couldn't handle the maths, so I switched to history), and ever since I've been a child, I've been wondering at what Pluto really looks like, as spacecrafts have visited all of the other known planets in our solar system. Now we're seeing the first good images of Pluto and its largest satellite, Charon.




It looks like Pluto has a reddish-brown colour, causing some at NASA to dub it the 'Other Red Planet'.


Just curious if anyone else is excitedly watching this. There's a website called Our Pluto where people voted on names to give to geographical features on Pluto and Charon. I suggested Grendel from the Beowulf epic, though it didn't make the top votes, but maybe if they run out of names, they'll use it.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2015, 01:02:44 AM by Sir Percival the Gallant »

Offline gaggedLouise

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I heard about it last year and made a mental note for July 2015 - will certainly be watching. I expect Pluto and its moons to look really rugged - like our moon but even more broken and frozen up - and the surface temperature on those bodies is going to be insanely low, of course (and even lower in space, I figure?) but it's going to be very interesting.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2015, 05:40:09 AM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Sir Percival the GallantTopic starter

I heard about it last year and made a mental note for July 2015 - will certainly be watching. I expect Plto and its moons to look really rugged - like our moon but even more broken and frozen up - and the surface temperature on those bodies is going to be insanely low, of course (and even lower in space, I figure?) but it's going to be very interesting.

Yeah, that seems likely—I take it you've seen some artistic impressions of a view from Pluto's surface. I know they've identified some dark spots from the images they've got so far.

Offline Renegade Vile

Back in 2006, the spacecraft New Horizons left Earth, bound for Pluto, at that time still considered a planet. After almost ten years and about five billion kilometres, the spacecraft will reach Pluto next week for a flyby. I'm a huge astronomy geek (I originally wanted to be an astronomer, but I couldn't handle the maths, so I switched to history), and ever since I've been a child, I've been wondering at what Pluto really looks like, as spacecrafts have visited all of the other known planets in our solar system. Now we're seeing the first good images of Pluto and its largest satellite, Charon.




It looks like Pluto has a reddish-brown colour, causing some at NASA to dub it the 'Other Red Planet'.


Just curious if anyone else is excitedly watching this. There's a website called Our Pluto where people voted on names to give to geographical features on Pluto and Charon. I suggested Grendel from the Beowulf epic, though it didn't make the top votes, but maybe if they run out of names, they'll use it.

Very nice to see images like these. I've also always been interested in astronomy so it's good to have some more information about what Pluto might look like. I'll definitely be giving those articles a read.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Slightly off topic, but this video is too cool - a hair-raising artist's impression of what it would look like if Saturn passed close to Earth...right to the distance limit where its gravity forces would pull our planet apart and turn it into another ring! Luckily, that doesn't happen here...instead Saturn moves away again from the moment of doom.


Offline Sir Percival the GallantTopic starter

Slightly off topic, but this video is too cool - a hair-raising artist's impression of what it would look like if Saturn passed close to Earth...right to the distance limit where its gravity forces would pull our planet apart and turn it into another ring! Luckily, that doesn't happen here...instead Saturn moves away again from the moment of doom.

Oh, that's cool. Interestingly, too, Saturn would actually float in an ocean large enough to contain something of its size, since the whole planet is less dense that water.




Also, more new images.




Looks like Pluto and Charon are made of different stuff. Charon, they're saying, is mostly water ice and ammonia compounds, whereas Pluto is made up of 'exotic' ices, especially methane, which give it the reddish colour. They're also saying Pluto has a 'significant' atmosphere (not what I expected).
« Last Edit: July 09, 2015, 11:16:20 PM by Sir Percival the Gallant »

Offline Renegade Vile

Oh, that's cool. Interestingly, too, Saturn would actually float in an ocean large enough to contain something of its size, since the whole planet is less dense that water.




Also, more new images.




Looks like Pluto and Charon are made of different stuff. Charon, they're saying, is mostly water ice and ammonia compounds, whereas Pluto is made up of 'exotic' ices, especially methane, which give it the reddish colour. They're also saying Pluto has a 'significant' atmosphere (not what I expected).

I wouldn't have thought Pluto would have much of an atmosphere either. Trace, at the most. Wonder what it's makeup is and why the little ice planet is keeping it together far more than expected.
As for Charon, I'm equally interested in that moon, given the strange orbit it has with Pluto.

Offline TaintedAndDelish

« Last Edit: July 11, 2015, 01:10:49 AM by TaintedAndDelish »

Offline Oniya

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120 degree angles are actually fairly common in nature.  Things from quartz crystals to adjoining bubbles to snowflakes tend to settle to something close to that.

Offline gaggedLouise

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The funny thing is, those smaller (micro)planets and big moons tend to have some of the tallest mountains in the solar system. On a larger body like Earth it takes more energy to push up let's say a five-miles high mountain range or rim, because of more powerful gravity.

Offline Renegade Vile

Re: Enter Pluto: The First Visit by a Spacecraft to this Dark, Cold World
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2015, 02:29:46 PM »
The funny thing is, those smaller (micro)planets and big moons tend to have some of the tallest mountains in the solar system. On a larger body like Earth it takes more energy to push up let's say a five-miles high mountain range or rim, because of more powerful gravity.

Indeed. I believe the tallest (or at least one of them) mountain in the Solar System that's been somewhat accurately measured is on Mars.

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Enter Pluto: The First Visit by a Spacecraft to this Dark, Cold World
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2015, 01:33:54 AM »
120 degree angles are actually fairly common in nature.  Things from quartz crystals to adjoining bubbles to snowflakes tend to settle to something close to that.

I was thinking ice too but this thing look gigantic.

From July 11th

« Last Edit: July 12, 2015, 01:40:19 AM by TaintedAndDelish »

Offline Oniya

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Re: Enter Pluto: The First Visit by a Spacecraft to this Dark, Cold World
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2015, 02:22:44 AM »
Well, I wasn't limiting it to ice.  Any crystalline structure with 6-fold symmetry is going to have natural fracture lines at 120 degrees.  Bubbles (or other free-forming spherical shapes) will always meet at a 120-degree angle when three come into contact.  There's also this interesting bit of synchronicity.  Measuring by eye, the 137-degree angle doesn't look a whole lot different from a 120 degree angle.

Offline Renegade Vile

Re: Enter Pluto: The First Visit by a Spacecraft to this Dark, Cold World
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2015, 04:21:07 PM »
Olympus Mons is the tallest mountain on an

I think your post got cut off there, what did you mean?

Offline Sir Percival the GallantTopic starter

Re: Enter Pluto: The First Visit by a Spacecraft to this Dark, Cold World
« Reply #14 on: July 13, 2015, 05:25:09 PM »
I don't know much about geology, so I was going to guess crystalline ridges or something.


Into the final stretch. New features on Charon noted, including deep chasms:


Offline Vekseid

Re: Enter Pluto: The First Visit by a Spacecraft to this Dark, Cold World
« Reply #15 on: July 13, 2015, 09:37:12 PM »
I think your post got cut off there, what did you mean?

I derped.

Olympus Mons on Mars is the tallest mountain on any known planetary body, and quite likely anywhere in the Solar System. Vesta has a larger 'mountain' by some measures, but it isn't a dwarf planet and not a mountain or volcano in the typical sense.

Any dwarf planet in the outer solar system would likely have cooled faster than Mars, meaning volcanism would have ended sooner and gave more time for gravity to reassert itself.

Though there are rumors of a Mars-to-Earth sized body out there. Would be a very interesting discovery if so.

Offline Renegade Vile

Re: Enter Pluto: The First Visit by a Spacecraft to this Dark, Cold World
« Reply #16 on: July 14, 2015, 02:55:43 AM »
I derped.

Olympus Mons on Mars is the tallest mountain on any known planetary body, and quite likely anywhere in the Solar System. Vesta has a larger 'mountain' by some measures, but it isn't a dwarf planet and not a mountain or volcano in the typical sense.

Any dwarf planet in the outer solar system would likely have cooled faster than Mars, meaning volcanism would have ended sooner and gave more time for gravity to reassert itself.

Though there are rumors of a Mars-to-Earth sized body out there. Would be a very interesting discovery if so.

I didn't know about those rumors, I'll give it a google search and see what comes up.

Offline SouvlakiSpaceStation

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Re: Enter Pluto: The First Visit by a Spacecraft to this Dark, Cold World
« Reply #17 on: July 15, 2015, 12:38:40 AM »
I'm pretty stoked about Pluto's heart to be honest.


Offline Sir Percival the GallantTopic starter

Re: Enter Pluto: The First Visit by a Spacecraft to this Dark, Cold World
« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2015, 12:52:33 AM »
I'm pretty stoked about Pluto's heart to be honest.

LOL That was fortuitous!


I also had a geek-heart moment when I heard Stephen Hawking's message of congratulation.

Offline Starstrider

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Re: Enter Pluto: The First Visit by a Spacecraft to this Dark, Cold World
« Reply #19 on: July 16, 2015, 05:59:07 AM »
The first visit to one of the most distant points of the solar system and people are freaking out about heart shapes. It reminds me of that time the Mars probes left some... rather suggestive tracks.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Enter Pluto: The First Visit by a Spacecraft to this Dark, Cold World
« Reply #20 on: July 16, 2015, 07:41:09 AM »
Heart shape, you say?



You're welcome.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Enter Pluto: The First Visit by a Spacecraft to this Dark, Cold World
« Reply #21 on: July 16, 2015, 09:45:31 AM »
I derped.

Olympus Mons on Mars is the tallest mountain on any known planetary body, and quite likely anywhere in the Solar System. Vesta has a larger 'mountain' by some measures, but it isn't a dwarf planet and not a mountain or volcano in the typical sense.

Any dwarf planet in the outer solar system would likely have cooled faster than Mars, meaning volcanism would have ended sooner and gave more time for gravity to reassert itself.

Though there are rumors of a Mars-to-Earth sized body out there. Would be a very interesting discovery if so.

Interesting side note: though Mars is solidly inactive these days, the Curiosity Rover recently found hints of tectonic plate activity in the past. On Earth, and likely on any planet with tectonic "land plates", full-blown continental plate movement in the crust tends to lead to chains of volcanoes (like the Pacific Ring of Fire), earthquakes and the formation of mountain chains. Mars has mountain ranges, it has water and may have had minor oceanic basins in the grey distant past, so major geological movements and regular. eruptive volcanism is a really interesting prospect.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2015, 09:46:57 AM by gaggedLouise »

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Re: Enter Pluto: The First Visit by a Spacecraft to this Dark, Cold World
« Reply #22 on: July 16, 2015, 02:54:54 PM »
RE: The Pluto dog =10/10 would laugh again

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Enter Pluto: The First Visit by a Spacecraft to this Dark, Cold World
« Reply #23 on: July 16, 2015, 04:01:53 PM »
RE: The Pluto dog =10/10 would laugh again

>3

Also, Karo used to be a well-known name for dogs in Germany and Scandinavia - compare Karon/Charon for the boatman and Pluto's largest moon.

Offline Starstrider

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Re: Enter Pluto: The First Visit by a Spacecraft to this Dark, Cold World
« Reply #24 on: July 16, 2015, 04:42:20 PM »
>3

Also, Karo used to be a well-known name for dogs in Germany and Scandinavia - compare Karon/Charon for the boatman and Pluto's largest moon.

Some German Shepherds I've seen would definitely qualify for the name Cerberus. They're still adorable (if hyper) piles of fluff though.