Photo credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
By Kenneth Chang
The story of Pluto is largely a story of ice.
On Earth, the only ice is frozen water. On Pluto, nitrogen, methane and carbon monoxide also freeze solid.
The most striking feature that NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft saw when it flew past Pluto last July was a heart-shape region now named Tombaugh Regio after Clyde Tombaugh, the discoverer of Pluto.
The left half is covered by mostly nitrogen snow; the right side is more methane ice.
Eight months since NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft had its quick, close-up look at Pluto, scientists are reaping the scientific rewards from a bounty of data the spacecraft collected. Mission scientists reported their findings in five articles published Thursday in the journal Science.