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.
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!
New colour and black & white images of Pluto and its largest moon Charon, taken by New Horizons on July 11 and 12, 2015. Much closer (and better) colour images are scheduled to be available tonight or tomorrow. As of this post, there are now less than 13 hours until closest approach!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.