Be Mindful. Pluto Live in July! How Close Will We Be?

By | 2015-06-26

The structure of Pluto is not very well understood at present. Nevertheless, spectroscopic observation from Earth in the 1970s has revealed that the planet surface is covered with methane ice. Surface temperature is -230 degrees C, and the frozen methane exhibits a bright coloration. However, with the exception of the polar caps, the frozen methane surface is seen to change to a dark red on the basis of observation of eclipse by its moon Charon.

 

 

Because astronomers discovered the dwarf planet in 1930, they have seen only part of its 248-year path around the Sun, and they don’t know exactly where Pluto is. And New Horizons is so far from Earth that it takes 9 hours to send and receive a signal, making the spacecraft hard to direct in real time.

 

New Horizons is now deep in the encounter, and already seeing just how interesting Pluto and Charon promise to be. Mission PI Alan Stern writes that there’s only one Pluto flyby planned in all of history,…

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