Recent Results from NASA's New Horizons Mission to the Pluto System (speaker: Leslie Young, Southwest Research Institute)

Tuesday, April 12, 4:00pm
Marlar Lounge (37-252)

Abstract:  When NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew past Pluto and its five moons last July, it revealed a beautiful, varied, and puzzling system.  Its four small moons are in strange, rapid rotation states. Its large moon, Charon sports a completely unexpected dark, reddish area near its north pole.  The upper atmosphere is escaping at much slower rates than expected pre-encounter, and so Pluto has held on to more of its volatiles over the age of the solar system than previously modeled.  Pluto’s atmosphere is hazy out to hundreds of km — particularly astonishing since Pluto itself is only about 1200 km in radius.  Pluto’s surface ranges from dark and cratered terrains, to tall mountain ranges, to geologically young ice flows. I will discuss these and other news from the New Horizons spacecraft, including recent results from the special issue of Science (March 18 2016), and Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (March 21-25, 2016).

Hosts:  Zach Berta-Thompson and Hilke Schlichting