Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Pluto's top 9

I don't think that the scientists who advocated for, and managed to launch, the New Horizons mission to Pluto had any idea that it would be so darned strange.  But it turns out to be.  Lots of papers came out in Science this week, and you can try and find then and read them if you want and have the ability to, but I thought the summary from NASA of the top 9 findings (thus far) was sufficient.

Top New Horizons findings reported in Science 

Number 3 is fun:
The distribution of compositional units on Pluto’s surface – from nitrogen-rich, to methane-rich, to water-rich – has been found to be surprisingly complex, creating puzzles for understanding Pluto’s climate and geologic history. The variations in surface composition on Pluto are unprecedented elsewhere in the outer solar system.

Of course, we can't really see the surface of the gas giants (not that we expect them to be that interesting), and as I recall, Neptune's moon Triton was unusual, too. But I guess Pluto is still stranger.

Pluto shows its atmospheric layers

That's what science is for - to investigate, to discover, and to find out there are still questions that don't have easy answers.

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