Pluto Revealed! Latest Results from NASA’s New Horizons Mission
IPGP - Îlot Cuvier
Séminaires généraux de l’IPGP
Richard P. Binzel
In July 2015, NASA’s (Smart Car size) New Horizons spacecraft reached the Pluto system revealing an amazing and bizarre planetary world. Ice mountains as tall as the Alps and smooth plains of frozen carbon monoxide 500 km across are just some of the surprising features. Pluto appears to be a globally changing planet with seasonal cycles ranging from decades to millennia producing an evolving landscape of nitrogen ice glaciers and variable atmospheric pressure. Charon’s surface also appears relatively young and crater-free, implying some recent era geologic activity. Completing the system are four small moons found to be irregularly shaped with complex spin patterns in their own regularly spaced orbits. As New Horizons continues its voyage out of the solar system, a close encounter with at least one newly discovered Kuiper Belt object appears possible within the next four years.