Pluto changes colour

2010-02-05 12:58

kalahari.com

  • NASA
    The USA accelerated the space race in 1958 by forming NASA. Eager readers will learn about the... Now R441.00
    buy now
Washington – Pluto, the dwarf planet on the outer edge of our solar system, has a dramatically ruddier hue than it did just a few years ago, Nasa scientists said on Thursday, after examining photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

They said the distant orb appears mottled and molasses-coloured in recent pictures, with a markedly redder tone that most likely is the result of surface ice melting on Pluto's sunlit pole and then refreezing on the other pole.

The remarkable colour shift, which apparently took place between 2000 and 2002, confirms that Pluto is a dynamic world undergoing dramatic atmospheric changes and not simply a ball of ice and rock, according to scientists at the US space agency.

They said they will compare Hubble pictures taken in 1994 with some from 2002 and 2003, as they search for more signs of seasonal change, including evidence that Pluto's northern polar region has become brighter, while the southern hemisphere has darkened.

"The Hubble observations are the key to showing how it all makes sense by providing a context based on weather and seasonal changes, which opens other new lines of investigation," said the leader of the study, principal investigator Marc Buie of the Southwest Research Institute in the western US city of Boulder, Colorado.

Declassified as planet

Pluto – declassified as a full-fledged planet in August 2006 – has a 248-year orbit and an axial tilt which, unlike Earth, alone drives the seasons. The icy orb's seasons are asymmetrical because of its elliptical orbit.

Spring transitions to polar summer quickly in the northern hemisphere, because Pluto is moving faster along its orbit when it is closer to the sun, Nasa said.

Scientists are hoping to collect additional riveting snapshots of Pluto when Nasa's next space probe, dubbed New Horizons, flies by the dwarf planet in 2015.

Hubble underwent repair during a space shuttle mission last year that left it with a new camera and spectrograph, as well as spruced up scientific instruments.

The repair job marked the end of Nasa's human missions to the beloved Hubble. Launched in 1990, the telescope was repaired and upgraded in 1993, 1997, 1999, 2002 and 2008.

Last year's final upgrade extended the life of Hubble for another five years.
- SAPA
Read more on:    nasa  |  space
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic & Train Alerts
Traffic
Montague Gardens 18:07 PM
Road name: Montague Drive

ROADWORKS - lane closures both directions for BRT lane construction - expect delays

Kuils River 18:05 PM
Road name: Polkadraai Road Eastbound

ROADWORKS between the R102 Van Riebeeck Road and the R310 Baden Powell Drive exit - expect delays

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Social media is pulling you in and you have the desire to find out everything you know about your friends and you have the urge to...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.