In what may be a significant step toward the seemingly far-off goal of sending a rover to the surface of Venus, NASA has awarded two grants totalling $245,000 to a semiconductor technology firm to design complex integrated circuits which could withstand the extremely harsh environment on this neighboring world.
The intriguing bright spots on dwarf planet/asteroid Ceres have been fascinating the public and scientists alike for the past few months, and now a new discovery might provide a valuable clue as to just what these spots are made of: the Dawn spacecraft has detected a periodic haze over the brightest spots in Occator crater.
One of the primary goals in the search for exoplanets is to, hopefully, find an Earth analog or “Earth twin,” an alien world similar to our own. That search is still ongoing, but getting closer – yesterday NASA announced a new exoplanetary discovery that could be described as “Earth’s bigger and older cousin” – Kepler-452b.
Another beautiful mosaic image of the icy mountains and plains in the southern “heart” region of Pluto, this time in colour with image processing by Thomas Appéré. The mountains on the left have been named Norgay Montes and the plains are now known as Sputnik Planum. Plus more Pluto information and images at the next press briefing tomorrow!
Another amazing image of Pluto’s surface has been released, showing a second mountain range similar to the one previously photographed by New Horizons. The peaks in this range are estimated to be from 1 to 1.5 kilometres (0.5 mile to 1 mile tall), similar to the Appalachian Mountains in the U.S., and like the others, composed of solid water ice.
A great new colour mosaic of the first Pluto flyby images released so far is now available from Thomas Appéré. The images show the Sputnik Planum plains and Norway Montes mountains in the southern part of the large “heart” feature. More images to come soon!
A new close-up view of Pluto’s surface was released today, this time showing an expanse of icy plains next to the previous mountains imaged earlier. More bizarre and unexpected terrain, with polygons similar to ones seen in icy regions on Mars and Earth, but on a larger scale, and how they’re formed here isn’t known yet. Other mounds and small pits are also visible. As noted in the press conference again, Pluto is turning out to show much more evidence for geological activity than had been anticipated. This image version still has compression artifacts in it, but there are more and higher-resolution images to come!
The first-ever closeup view of Pluto’s surface from the flyby by New Horizons has been released, as well as the best view yet of Pluto’s largest moon, Charon. The new Pluto image shows mountains up to 3,500 metres (11,000 feet) tall in this region, unexpected on such a small, cold planetary body. They are thought to be made of solid water ice and no more than 100,000 years old, which is very young geologically. Those and other features suggest that Pluto may still be geologically active even now.