As New Horizons spacecraft flew by Pluto a few days ago, here are some of the first impressions we've received.

So far, even with our best telescopes, the only thing we saw of Pluto, was a bland sphere floating at the far edges of our Solar System. What could possibly be happening at a space rock that is not even considered a planet anymore? But just like with the other planets in the Solar System, when we flew by it up close, we were astonished.

One of the things that shocked NASA people, is that Pluto is a very active planet geologically. Which means it is very young. If NASA assigns our Solar System 4.5 billion years, to Pluto they could give no more than 100 million. “We’ve only seen surfaces like this on active worlds like Earth and Mars,” said mission co-investigator John Spencer of SwRI. “I'm really smiling.” Do we scratch our assumptions on the age of the Solar System? No, most likely we will try to come up with theories on how Pluto formed a long time after the Solar System did. New data can be astonishing, but old per-suppositions are difficult to shake.

Evidence of exotic nitrogen ices flowing through the planet have been discovered, similar to the way glaciers travel on Earth. The color analysis of the image data suggests the climate on Pluto varies by latitude. At the equator, are the darkest regions. In between the equator and the poles are mid-tone regions. And the poles are dominated by bright icy expanse. The pattern is interrupted by a region called "the heart of Pluto", a white region that looks like a heart, and suggested to be a reservoir of ices.

Another thing that shocked NASA people, is the lack of impact craters. In fact, the first quick picture we have received from New Horizons spacecraft, showed not a single crater. With all the rocks surrounding Pluto, scientists were expecting to find Pluto checkered with signs of impacts with objects zooming by. Another indication that Pluto is much younger than previously believed. An explanation has already been introduced - there is an old region of Pluto that is heavily cratered, it's just that the craters have been filled up by new ice.

A range of mountains 1-mile high have been discovered, and named after the people who have first climbed the top of Mount Everest.

And here's a video of a flyby over the surface of Pluto!

Sources:

http://www.nasa.gov/feature/new-horizons-discovers-flowing-ices-on-pluto

 



Sources: