Curiosity finds first evidence for possible ‘continental crust’ on Mars

View of an igneous clast named Harrison which is embedded in a conglomerate rock in Gale crater, and features elongated light-toned feldspar crystals. This mosaic is a combination of an image from Mastcam with higher-resolution images from ChemCam’s Remote Micro-Imager. Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/IRAP/U. Nantes/IAS/MSSS
View of an igneous clast named Harrison which is embedded in a conglomerate rock in Gale crater, and features elongated light-toned feldspar crystals. This mosaic is a combination of an image from Mastcam with higher-resolution images from ChemCam’s Remote Micro-Imager. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/IRAP/U. Nantes/IAS/MSSS

The Curiosity rover, still roaming in Gale crater, has discovered the first evidence for a potential ancient “continental crust” on Mars, which would be a very significant finding regarding Mars’ early history and to what degree it may have paralleled Earth’s.

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Image Gallery: Pluto Just Before Closest Approach

Photo Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
Photo Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

The best ever photo of Pluto so far was just released by NASA as New Horizons neared closest approach (and successfully completed), taken on July 13, 2015 from a distance of 768,000 kilometres (476,000 miles). We can now see this world in detail for the first time in history. The probe is now on the other side of Pluto, heading outward. Many more images from closest approach are to come, and a lot of other data, starting tomorrow!

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Image Gallery – Pluto and Charon, July 11, 2015

Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI
Pluto. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

The latest image of Pluto from New Horizons, taken on July 11, 2015, has just been posted. More interesting geological features can now be seen, including possible cliffs and a crater, as well as the other bright and dark patches. There is also a new image of Pluto’s largest moon Charon, showing chasms, craters and the large dark area at the north pole. It is now less than two days until closest approach, at 7:49 AM EDT on July 14!

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Image Gallery – Pluto, July 11, 2015

Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

The latest image of Pluto from New Horizons, taken on July 11, 2015 from 4 million kilometres (2.5 million miles) away. The four dark spots along the equator (next to the “whale” feature)  can be seen better now, but will be on the other side of the dwarf planet when New Horizons passes by. It is now only three days until closest approach!

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Image Gallery: Pluto – July 9, 2015

Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

The latest image of Pluto from New Horizons, taken on July 9, 2015 from 5.4 million kilometres (3.3 million miles) away. The long dark feature along the equator called the “whale” is at the bottom of the image, and another band of “complex terrain” including polygonal features above that stretches for about 1,609 kilometres (1,000 miles). It is now only three days until closest approach!

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Today’s new Pluto images plus updated media coverage and activities for flyby on July 14

The newest image of Pluto and its largest moon Charon in color, taken on July 8, 2015 by New Horizons. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI
The newest image of Pluto and its largest moon Charon in colour, taken on July 8, 2015 by New Horizons. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

New images of Pluto and its largest moon Charon have again been released today, showing these two worlds in ever greater detail. Also, with the New Horizons spacecraft now in its final approach phase to the Pluto system, NASA has updated its schedule of media coverage and activities for the historic encounter. There will be continuous coverage of the flyby, including, of course, the latest images as they become available.

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Closing in on Pluto: dwarf planet shows its face and heart

The newest image of Pluto, taken by New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) camera less than six days before closest approach. The long dark area called the “whale” is in the lower left and the brighter “heart” region is in the lower right. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI
The newest image of Pluto, taken by New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) camera less than six days before closest approach. The long dark area called the “whale” is in the lower left and the brighter “heart” region is in the lower right. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

With less than six days remaining now until closest approach, Pluto is starting to show its real face for the first time ever, including a big “heart.”

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After glitch, New Horizons to resume science operations July 7, before Pluto encounter

The newest maps of Pluto, as of two weeks before closest approach. A black and white reflectance map has been combined with a natural colour map to produce the map in the center. Four dark patches of about the same size and spacing can also be seen in these and other recent images. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI
The newest maps of Pluto, as of two weeks before closest approach. A black and white reflectance map has been combined with a natural colour map to produce the map in the center. Four dark patches of about the same size and spacing can also be seen in these and other recent images. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

After an anomaly was detected onboard the New Horizons spacecraft on July 4, which had many people holding their collective breath, NASA announced today that science operations will resume on July 7, just days before the spacecraft makes its closest approach to Pluto and its moons on July 14.

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New colour images show ‘two faces’ of Pluto and odd dark spots along equator

New colour images of Pluto sent back by New Horizons showing two different “faces” or hemispheres of the dwarf planet and its largest moon Charon. Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
New colour images of Pluto sent back by New Horizons showing two different “faces” or hemispheres of the dwarf planet and its largest moon Charon. Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

First there were the unusual bright spots on Ceres, which are still awaiting an explanation, and now as New Horizons races toward its flyby encounter with Pluto on July 14, another mystery has emerged: four intriguing large dark spots more or less along Pluto’s equator which seem to be roughly the same size and evenly spaced. The spots are mentioned as part of an update on July 1 from NASA about the “two different faces of Pluto” that scientists are now starting to see in more detail.

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