The Mystery Of Pluto’s X-Ray Glow

If you’ve been to a dentist, you’re probably familiar with X-rays. Like the colors purple and red, X-rays are a “color” of light but one invisible to the human eye. If there were X-ray-sensing life forms, who knows what hue they’d see, but it would have a color. Even though X-rays are invisible, they have many…
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Take A Trip Down The Strip — Best Closeups Of Pluto Yet

A new, detailed mosaic slice of Pluto, which I’ve chopped into seven pieces, each representing a sample of a different terrain, was released by NASA on May 27. It includes all of the highest-resolution images taken by NASA’s New Horizons probe as it flew past Pluto on July 14 last year. It extends across the hemisphere that faced the…
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Dwarf Planet Makemake Divulges A Dark Moon

Far, far away beyond the planet Neptune lies the Kuiper Belt, a vast reservoir of frozen orbs left over from the construction phase of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago. Four of them are dwarf planets, the most famous of which is Pluto with its system of five moons. Another is Makemake (MAH-kee MAH-kee),…
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Ice Makes Pluto’s Moon Charon Split A Gut

For the same reason a glass bottle filled with water shatters when left to freeze, ice may have split Pluto’s moon Charon wide open. Ice expands when it freezes. This simple fact of physics has wide-ranging consequences from busting your water pipes during a cold spell to spalling rocks and shifting home foundations during freeze-thaw cycles. Images…
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Pluto Churns Like A Lava Lamp

A recently released high-resolution swath of Pluto taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft shows all kinds of wonderful things in Sputnik Planum, the informal name given to the icy plains dominating the left side of Pluto’s big “heart”. The strip reveals features less than half a city block in size Sputnik Planum is at a lower elevation…
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