Surprise! Pluto May have Clouds

We could be calling it Cloudgate—”leaked” information from internal emails identifying structures in Pluto’s already hazy atmosphere that could very well be clouds, based on a March 4 article in New Scientist. The image above shows sections of a New Horizons image attached to an email sent by SwRI scientist John Spencer, in which he noted particularly…

Pale Blue Dot: Our Valentine from Voyager 1

If you’re in love with space exploration then you’ll fall for this: a picture of Earth (and five other planets) taken from the Voyager 1 spacecraft after it passed the orbit of Pluto in 1990, 26 years ago today. That image of our planet from almost 4 billion miles away inspired Carl Sagan to write his…

Why Are Pluto’s Moons So Weird?

Whether you call it a planet, a dwarf planet, or a Kuiper Belt or Trans-Neptunian Object—or all of the above—there’s no denying that Pluto and its family of moons are true curiosities in the Solar System. Not only does little Pluto have one moon, Charon, that’s so massive in comparison that they both orbit each other…

There’s More Water Ice on Pluto Than First Thought

When New Horizons made its close pass pf Pluto on July 14, 2015, it did much more than just take pretty pictures; it was also scanning the planet with a suite of science instruments designed to determine the nature of its surface, atmosphere, composition, and other key characteristics. One of these instruments was the Linear Etalon Imaging…

This Giant Ice Volcano on Pluto is All Wright

This bumpy wrinkled pucker is actually an enormous ice volcano — i.e., a cryovolcano — on the surface of Pluto, imaged by the passing New Horizons spacecraft on July 14, 2015. Informally called Wright Mons, the feature is about 90 miles (150 km) across and 2.5 miles (4 km) high, about as high as some of the tallest…

Planetkiller Presents New Evidence for “Planet X”

A planet-killing astronomer is now attempting to introduce a new world into the Solar System. Self-professed “Pluto killer” Mike Brown — the Caltech professor and astronomer whose discovery of Eris in 2005 prompted the reclassification of what constitutes a full-fledged planet, thus knocking Pluto from the list a year later — is now offering up evidence for the existence of a “real” ninth…

Pluto Is the New Science Star of the Solar System

Now over four months after the historic and long-awaited flyby of Pluto by New Horizons, planetary scientists have had a steady stream of unprecedented data arriving on Earth from the outwardly-speeding spacecraft. We’ve learned more about Pluto in the past few months than we had over the decades before and the information is still being analyzed…

Pluto Looks Amazing (Again) in the Latest View From New Horizons

At the beginning of September the world was treated to a fantastic view of the night side of Pluto, captured by the New Horizons spacecraft as it departed the distant icy world on July 14, 2015. Backlit by the sun, Pluto’s surprisingly complex atmospheric haze created a ghostly glow above its crescent-lit limb while frozen mountains cast…

Pluto’s Moon Kerberos Gets Into the Picture

For decades, far-off Pluto and its moons were just a collection of bright spots in even our most powerful telescopes. Now the dwarf planet and its family of five moons has been revealed in intimate detail with the long-awaited flyby of the New Horizons spacecraft. Last week the “family portrait” of the Pluto system was made…

Here’s Our NEW Best Look Ever at Pluto

Just a week after releasing some of the most incredible images of a planetary surface ever, the New Horizons team did it again today with even more new views of distant Pluto — this time with a high-resolution enhanced color image of Pluto that just begs to be intimately explored, pixel by pixel (and this…