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New Horizons: Near Encounter Phase
0101Morpheus
post Jul 15 2015, 10:11 PM
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QUOTE (Phil Stooke @ Jul 15 2015, 02:40 PM) *
Contrast stretch of Charon to make subtle features show up better.

Phil

[attachment=36939:nh_charon_x.jpg]


The similarities between Charon and Triton are striking. I am almost certain it was a separate body that was captured by Pluto now.
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JohnVV
post Jul 15 2015, 10:12 PM
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a few VERY quick 3d renderings ( i have to go to dinner in a few Minuets so...)


back later
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Ken2
post Jul 15 2015, 10:19 PM
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I think the high mountains are due to erosion of the surrounding material with the dark material acting as capstones (like the mesa's in the American southwest)

This mountain in particular seems compelling.


Attached Image


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nprev
post Jul 15 2015, 10:22 PM
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Spectacular, John.

That black smudge is smack dab on top of an elevated 'ropy' looking region, very different from the surrounding plains & peaks. That is very, very intriguing.


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Sherbert
post Jul 15 2015, 10:23 PM
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QUOTE (neo56 @ Jul 15 2015, 09:04 PM) *
My take on the amazing LORRI picture of Pluto:



Thomas thats brilliant. The change of view makes it so much easier to understand. When I zoomed in on the ropey like background, there are thousands of little sublimation pits that are arranged in twisted lines just like rope. These very high hills, remember the ice shards in the foreground are over a kilometre tall, look distinctly depositional. This is millennia of super volatile frost/snow deposition. We have seen these sublimation features, shapes, pits, sedimentary like layering all over 67P, an object dominated by the sublimation of volatiles. We also see in the area that is the very tip of the Tombaugh Region, a grey coating that looks to have "flowed" over and covered underlying terrain, flowing round the Ice Mountains giving the appearance they are emerging from the surface. There are holes in it around the edges through which the loopy ridges of the terrain underneath can be seen, like lava tubes have holes in their tops, as well as underlying forms being visible in the surface topology. Whatever that grey stuff is, Carbon Monoxide Ice I suggest, has flowed down from the bright Tombaugh Region. The sharp angular shards of the Ice Mountains seem totally alien and randomly scattered in this landscape. Are they shards of Charon's Water Ice crust that broke off and embedded themselves in the terrain when the graze between Pluto and Charon occurred as mentioned earlier? This image right at the tip of the original heart shape is just at the edge of the first point of impact of my proposed graze of Charon. It would explain a lot, without resorting to energy sources and tectonics that have, for good reasons, been thought unlikely.

DLD, those experimental images were spot on, I learned so much from them. So Charon does have an "Eyeball" planet nature, even if, as I suggested previously, on a much smaller scale than Pluto. The two mountain ranges either side of the equator and the depression around the equator. Phil's contrast image appears to show dark plumes all over the hemisphere associated with dark circular features that could be volcanos or geysers, their direction of travel being all pretty much from pole to equator as the movement of warm gas in the sunlit hemisphere moving to the colder unlit hemisphere would enable. DLD's July 9 image shows the surface made of large plates and many of those cracks/faults can be seen in the new Charon image, and most possible Cryovolcanic activity is seen along them. This could just be deposits left eons ago when Charon had more internal heat, but it seems the team think that activity is recent, if not current. Along the deep valley of the equator a large crack is marked by the dark spots of sublimation vents/pits. Whatever is under Charon's Water Ice crust looks to be very slowly venting to the surface and is contributing to the resurfacing of Charon. Charon's nano atmosphere might not be quite so tiny as I thought. The Alice results will be intriguing.

That plume on the Pluto image looks similar, but with such a tenuous atmosphere surely all the plumes would be thinner, like the ones from geysers on Triton. Maybe the atmosphere on Pluto is far more turbulent due to the huge elevation changes and latent heat released by freezing gases, but on Charon? With 3 to 4 Km deep canyons and chasms, as detailed by the team, thats going to stir up whatever atmosphere there is there too. That canyon at 2 O'Clock looks to have been formed by a shattered piece of crust that did not quite escape from Charon during the graze with Pluto. It is adjacent to the impact area.

It was mentioned earlier, that the dark patch is not where the North Pole should be on Charon. The patch is dark because of the impact not because its a polar icecap, it just happens to be in the North Polar region. The depression gouged out by the impact is so clearly visible on the magical images folks have posted here, the mountains forced up around the perimeter too. The conclusion has to be that Charon formed separately from Pluto and was trapped into orbit around Pluto after the grazing impact in the Tombaugh Region. Charon's composition suggests it formed nearer to the Sun and was perhaps caught by Pluto as it was ejected from there by the antics of Jupiter and Saturn that created the Kuiper belt.

I hope people don't mind me thinking out loud in this way, its purely to generate ideas and give different perspectives and I make no claims to being scientifically rigorous or even right, just awestruck at what these images could be telling us about this amazing place. I am just so grateful to those who take the time to process and produce these "enhanced" images. Most of all a great big THANK YOU to the NH team for their brilliant foresight and dedication.
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Julius
post Jul 15 2015, 10:25 PM
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Who would have thought that icy bodies smaller than our moon could be so alive. I find it strange how the terrestial rocky planets witt the exception of earth and venus look so old and dead. That's one for the geophysicists to sort out. Less viscous internal ocean/slush mantles perhaps?
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JRehling
post Jul 15 2015, 10:26 PM
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QUOTE (0101Morpheus @ Jul 15 2015, 03:11 PM) *
The similarities between Charon and Triton are striking. I am almost certain it was a separate body that was captured by Pluto now.


It's almost impossible for Pluto to capture a body spontaneously. You'd need three bodies to carry that out, and Pluto never comes within 11 AU of anything large. It almost has to be a collision between Pluto and another body that led to the Pluto-Charon system.
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jasedm
post Jul 15 2015, 10:31 PM
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Very very cool.

This encounter will I think be the benchmark for collaborative achievement in the scientific community for many years to come.

An incomplete list of the assets and talents that have made this possible:

Hundreds of millions of dollars
Hundreds of very talented, very dedicated and very enthusiastic people
Indefatigable lobbying
DSN stations on three continents
A space-borne telescope in Earth orbit, and some of the world's largest earth-bound telescopes
Incredibly patient and exhaustive number-crunching
Engineering and navigational tolerances that almost defy belief

It's hard to think of a scientific endeavour in the last 20 years that approaches NH in terms of multi-disciplinary collaborative effort - and we get to enjoy the results in almost real time from the comfort of our own armchairs!

Let's not forget also that we've already had a 'free' Jupiter flyby, and have a bonus KBO encounter to look forward to a few years down the line.

Huge congratulations to all those involved. It's a crying shame Clyde Tombaugh didn't live to see this.

It would be interesting to know in the fullness of time, where within the 'error ellipse' (due to the slight uncertainty as to its precise orbital parameters) Pluto fell during closest approach. The best images released so far are spot-on ( there was a possibility that some would 'miss' the planet altogether due to these uncertainties).

Looking forward to more in the coming weeks!













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lars_J
post Jul 15 2015, 10:34 PM
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QUOTE (Ken2 @ Jul 15 2015, 06:19 PM) *
I think the high mountains are due to erosion of the surrounding material with the dark material acting as capstones (like the mesa's in the American southwest)

This mountain in particular seems compelling.


Attached Image


Yes, but most of the mountain tops are NOT mesas. What you point out seems to be the exception. Most have sharp points or a thin ridge line.


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0101Morpheus
post Jul 15 2015, 10:40 PM
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QUOTE (JRehling @ Jul 15 2015, 05:26 PM) *
It's almost impossible for Pluto to capture a body spontaneously. You'd need three bodies to carry that out, and Pluto never comes within 11 AU of anything large. It almost has to be a collision between Pluto and another body that led to the Pluto-Charon system.


A Giant Impact and capture of an intact Charon would create the tidal forces and the resurfacing that we are seeing today.
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EDG
post Jul 15 2015, 10:45 PM
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QUOTE (JRehling @ Jul 15 2015, 02:26 PM) *
It's almost impossible for Pluto to capture a body spontaneously. You'd need three bodies to carry that out, and Pluto never comes within 11 AU of anything large. It almost has to be a collision between Pluto and another body that led to the Pluto-Charon system.


If "Pluto never comes within 11 AU of anything large", shouldn't that also apply to objects that are going to hit it?
(i.e. if things are spread so widely apart then the chances of anything hitting it should also be very very tiny too).
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PDP8E
post Jul 15 2015, 10:49 PM
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Here is a GIF of the original closeup image of Pluto and its deconvolved twin
There is a slight increase in resolution
Attached Image


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EDG
post Jul 15 2015, 10:53 PM
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QUOTE (Julius @ Jul 15 2015, 02:11 PM) *
That could be a good argument. However what needs to be considered here IMHO is that it's the first time we're seeing an icy planet NOT orbiting a giant planet as was mentioned in the briefing.


I think they over-emphasised that a bit too much - I think it's very premature for them to claim that tidal heating isn't a major factor here when we know so little about the history and evolution of the Plutonian system (presumably they'll nail down the orbital eccentricity of Charon a bit more as a result of the flyby? Last I heard it was non-zero based on hubble measurements, which was a surprise)
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antipode
post Jul 15 2015, 10:56 PM
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The Eris flyby campaign starts here laugh.gif

Just think what those 30metre class telescopes under construction might do for discoveries in the outer Kuiper Belt (inner Oort cloud?)

OK seriously amazing stuff. The tiger stripe region of Enceladus looks very similar to the ropy potion of Charon's limb.
Also, is that limb-chasm on Charon going to displace Verona Rupes on Miranda as the greatest cliff in the solar system? (and greatest 22nd century low g freefall site?)

This is awesome x1000.

p
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Bjorn Jonsson
post Jul 15 2015, 10:57 PM
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QUOTE (JohnVV @ Jul 15 2015, 10:12 PM) *
a few VERY quick 3d renderings

Wow...Shape from shaping I assume?

Pluto's mountains are interesting and to me they look vaguely similar to Callisto's ice spires. This is a Galileo image from orbit C30:

Attached Image


There is one important difference though, the resolution of the Galileo image is more than 10 times higher than the resolution of the NH image. Callisto's spires are much smaller than Pluto's mountains.

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