- This was the first detailed presentation that includeds extended mission plans, and results to date put into context.
- New Horizons carries 7 instruments (link to more info here), and is RTG powered.
- PEPSSI and SWAP instruments made important detections, there's a paper about it submitted to science magazine.
- The dust detector will be the first to take readings out to 35 AU and kuiper belt
- 16 months to beam all data back (4 months if they had the dsn to themselves)
- They got good data on all of daylight Pluto, not just the side that got imaged at closest approach:
- Black and white optical data of far side at 40km per pixel resolution.
- UV and colour data, with 200 km footprint, of the far side - good enough to do regional colour and composition analysis.
- The best resolution of encounter hemisphere is 70m/pixel.
|Above: All the sunlight views of Pluto. Only the south pole was never seen due to permanent darkness.|
- New horizons has revealed a very complex world
- Young icy plains - especially the glacier sea of Tombaugh regio.
- Sublimation pits in the glaciers
- Dark, very red, plains devoid of volatiles
- Tectonic features: Scarps, faults, and rift valleys.
- What look like shield volcanoes
- A complex atmosphere
- The atmosphere shows:
- Possibly evidence of huge pressure pulses on the surface, from near zero millibars up to 100 millibars of atmosphere (more on that below)
- 24 plus haze layers, probably made of tholin particles, up to 230 km height.
- Very similar to Titan's extended/detached haze layers
- They're blue in colour ,as seen from behind the planet via scattering via Raleigh scattering.
- The scattering is so bright the NH team can use the hazeshine to see the night side at high resolution, and are mapping large areas that way- an unexpected bonus!
- Atmosphere is colder, and more compact, than expected - this result is from the by solar UV occultation experiment.
|Above: The results of the solar UV occultation test.|
- Atmosphere loss rate is 1000 to 10000 times lower than expected - much more like a planet than a comet, which was the expectation..
- A false colour, dynamically stretched, view of the surface shows....
|Above: A false colour, colour sharpened, view of Pluto.|
- Red stuff (almost certainly organic) fills the mountains around glacier sea.
- The glacier sea fills an ancient impact basin
- The mountains are water ice, and are chaotic in structure; They seem to float on an ocean of frozen nitrogen.
- The mountains have snowcaps of methane.
|False colour close up.|
- The glacier sea has no craters (so it's under 10,000,000 years old.
- It has a 'cellular' pattern on its surface.
- This pattern is most likely due to convection in the ice (it's warm at bottom, like boiling syrup or a lava lamp)
- The glaciers are active, not preserved, and are seen to flow around obstacles
- Pluto seems to have , or have had, a Nitrogen cycle like Earth's water cycle
- The southern glaciers have pits:
|Above: Pits in the glaciers|
- Some pits are 100 meters deep or more, and show very, very, black matter at bottom.
- The pits have possibly have eaten through into a layer below the glaciers.
- Dendritic channels on the surface MAY indicate that liquids flowed on Pluto's surface in the past
|Above: Dendrite channels.|
- This would be evidence of huge pressure pulses on the surface, from near zero millibars up to 100 millibars of atmosphere.
- Shield volcanoes on surface, 100km wide, with very few craters on surface, indicating they are under a billion years
- Pluto has young, old, and middle age terrains - which means Pluto has been active throughout its history - where's the energy coming from on such a small, cold, world?
- Charon may have stolen atmosphere from Pluto during high pressure pulses, freezing it into dark polar cap
- Charon also shows a complex geologic history
- Organa crater on Charon has an ammonia ejecta blanket, possibly indicating subsurface fluids at one point.
- Several of the little moons look like two objects merged:
- The next target didn't get a name because Jim Greene dragged his feet getting the naming contest going, so it's called (informally) 'Jim Greene'
- It's under 50 km wide
- NH will arrive there on the1st Jan 2019
- NH will come close enough to do science on 20 KBO's
- NH will measure the heliosphere phenomena much better than Voyager.
- After Jim Greene flyby Nh may go into astrophysics mode - seek microlensing events from extrasolar planets, and doing dust studies..
- Here are the preliminary science objectives for Jim Greene: