Mountains, Ponds and Glaciers: So long Pluto


A live planet, shaped by nitrogen instead of water

Remember New Horizons, arriving Pluto July last year? The probe is now leaving the planet, sailing on to a close rendezvous (2,000 miles) with a 25-mile object deep in the Kuiper belt (est arrival Jan. 1, 2019).

In this MIT interview, mission scientist Richard Binzel says New Horizons biggest discovery was that Pluto is a live planet, changed by ponds, possible channels, and advancing glaciers – made out of not water but liquid nitrogen.

As for his personal takeaway from the mission, “persistence coupled with curiosity creates one of the strongest forces in the universe,” the scientist concluded.

NASA’s top ten pics from the mission


Jagged Ice Shorelines and Snowy Pits. (Scroll top bar for bigger pics.) Source:NASA

Norgay Montes icy mountains near the Hillary Montes that reach 3.4 km (2.1 mi; 11 000 ft) above the surface are most likely created by water-ice behaving like a rock at Pluto’s temperatures. As for the North Polar cap methane ice there is diluted in a thick transparent slab of nitrogen ice. Source:NASA

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