NASA Spacecraft Discovers Pluto’s Heart…Plus Several Mysterious Dark and Bright Shapes

As NASA spacecraft New Horizons flies closer to dwarf planet Pluto for a much-awaited historic flyby on July 14, 2015, it sent several photographs to Earth. These pictures provided a glimpse of the dwarf planet, the clearest pictures humans have ever taken of this heavenly body which had once been the smallest planet on our Solar system until it was demoted to dwarf planet status.

It was through these photos that astronomers were able to discover several objects on Pluto, including a near-perfect heart shape located on the planet’s rusty red surface, reports Yahoo! News SG.

Could this heart-shaped spot be a storm like Jupiter’s red spot or a mountain? Scientists would have to wait for more information from New Horizons on the actual flyby day to possibly determine the answer to the puzzle. The spacecraft will be flying within 6,200 miles (9,977 kilometers) of the dwarf planet’s surface, giving it a chance to collect clearer pictures and data.

The discovery of Pluto’s heart was not the only highlight of the pre-flyby photos but also several mysterious spots on the dwarf planet’s surface. For example, they have dubbed a mysterious dark spot as “The Whale” and theorizing that the bright points on the surface were ice caps.

Artist's impression of New Horizons spacecraft fly-by of Pluto By NASA (NASA) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Artist’s impression of New Horizons spacecraft fly-by of Pluto
By NASA (NASA) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Be warned, however, that there lies a huge possibility that we are merely seeing those shapes in relation to the shapes that are familiar to us. [Check out ‘Pyramid’ Image in NASA Video: Proof of Civilization on Mars?]

By far, New Horizons is the first spacecraft to have reached the farthest reaches of space. It is also the fastest craft ever launched, moving at  30,800 miles (49,570 kilometers) per hour.

After the flyby, the spacecraft is expected to move further into the Kuiper Belt and the rest of our galaxy.

 

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