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The first details about Pluto


In the last images of Pluto taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, which will reach the dwarf planet in mid-July, it can be seen for the first time vague details of the surface, including a white spot that might be a polar cap. It will not be the surprise of the sailor who finally sees the cherished land, because you know for years now – in the middle of next July – dell’arrembaggio the dwarf planet Pluto by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft.

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Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

But already the journey of rapprochement is a gift, the slow unfolding of a cold world away, the voluptuous to define features only glimpsed. After the first instant color of Pluto and Charon of 9 April (on the right), in the latest images taken by New Horizons with the camera LORRI (Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager) from a distance of around 113 million kilometers, will begin to glimpse the roughness of the icy surface of Pluto. It is still “spots”, some lighter and others darker, but already enough for scientists to embark on interpretations, after they have been cleaned and decorated with a technique called deconvolution.In particular in the New Horizons science team if you bet a brighter area may or may not be a polar cap.

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Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

“As we approach the Pluto system are beginning to see some interesting features, such as a bright region near the visible pole of Pluto. This really marks the beginning of the great scientific adventure to understand this enigmatic celestial object, “says John Grunsfeld of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. In the images it was captured also the largest moon of Pluto, Charon, which revolves around (in fact, together) in 6.4 days. The exposure time of a tenth of a second, used to create each image that makes up the sequence, was too short to detect four moons much smaller and weaker, which are therefore not visible although they are in the field of view. “After waiting for the nine years during which the spacecraft through space, is now amazing to see Pluto take consistency before our eyes, turning from a mere point of light to become a real land to explore,” said Alan Stern, scientific director of New Horizons at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “These incredible images are the first in which we can begin to discern details on Pluto, and there are already showing that Pluto has a complex surface.”

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Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

The images that the spacecraft sends to Earth will improve considerably As New Horizons will approach his imminent summer appointment with the flyby of Pluto. “We can only imagine what surprises await us when New Horizons will pass about 12,500 km above the surface of Pluto this summer,” said Hal Weaver, designer of the mission at Johns Hopkins University.

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