NASA News Conference on the New Horizons Mission
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NASA News Conference on the New Horizons Mission


>>>GOOD AFTERNOON.
I’M DWAYNE BROWN FROM NASA’S
OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS.
THE RESEARCH TEAM HAS BEGUN
SHARING THE UNPRECEDENTED IMAGES
AND SCIENCE FINDINGS WITH THE
WORLD.
AND TODAY THEY HAVE MORE.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THIS
MISSION HAS CLEARLY BEEN
EMBRACED BY THE ENTIRE WORLD OF
ALL AGES.
IN FACT THE NUMBERS THAT ARE
COMING IN WITH MULTIMEDIA,
SOCIAL MEDIA, THE INTERNET,
RADIO, TV IS IN THE BILLIONS.
WE ALSO WANT TO GAVE NASA
HEADQUARTERS SHOUT OUT TO THE
JOHNS HOPKINS PLATFORM IN LOWER
MARYLAND FOR THE UNFORGETTABLE
MOMENTS AT THEIR FACILITY THIS
WEEK.
AND NOW WE’VE TRANSFERRED HERE
TO NASA WHERE THE FUTURE
MEETINGS WILL BE HERE.
WE’LL HAVE A BRIEF PRESENTATION
AND OPEN IT UP FOR QUESTIONS
STARTING HERE, ON NASA CENTERS,
SOCIAL MEDIA, IN THE PHONE
LINES.
SOCIAL MEDIA IS ABSOLUTELY
EXPLODING THE MISSION.
#PLUTO FLY BY.
TWITTER, FACEBOOK, YOUTUBE AND
OTHER NASA ACCOUNTS.
AND IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS SEND
THEM IN†#ASK NASA.
AND CERTAINLY ALL THE
INFORMATION YOU HAVE BEEN
HEARING WILL HEAR TODAY AND IN
THE WEEKS AND MONTHS WILL BE
ONLINE AT WWW.NASA.GOV/NEW
HORIZONS.
LET ME INTRODUCE YOU.
FIRST UP JIM GREEN DIRECTOR OF
PLANETARY SCIENCE DIVISION IN
NASA HEADQUARTERS.
ALLEN STERN, NEW HORIZONS
PRINCIPLE INVESTIGATOR TO
SOUTHWEST RESEARCH INSTITUTE IN
BOULDER, COLORADO.
RANDY GLADSTONE, NEW HORIZONS
CORE INVESTIGATOR AT SOUTHWEST
RESEARCH INSTITUTE IN SAN
ANTONIO.
FRAN BAGINAUGH NEW HORIZONS
CURRENT INVESTIGATOR AT
UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO, BOULDER.
WITH THAT TURN IT OVER TO YOU
DR. GREEN TO KICK US OFF.
>>TODAY WE’RE GOING TO TALK
ABOUT SOME OF THE FANTASTIC
DISCOVERIES ABOUT THE HEART OF
PLUTO.
BEFORE WE START THAT WHETHER I’D
LIKE TO DO IS REALLY TALK ABOUT
A LITTLE BIT THE HEART OF THE
NEW HORIZON MISSION.
FIRST I WANT TO THANK NPL AND
SWERI IN PARTICULAR FOR ALL THE
WORK THEY HAVE DONE TO MAKE THIS
HAPPEN.
THERE IS A WHOLE SERIES OF
CONTRACTORS THAT HAVE MADE THE
MISSION A SPECTACULAR SUCCESS
THAT IT IS.
APL HOSTING A FABULOUS EVENT
THIS WEEK THAT MANY ATTENDED
PERSONALLY, BUT MILLIONS
ATTENDED VIRTUALLY.
WHICH HAS BEEN REALLY
CAPTIVATING.
WHAT A HISTORIC WEEK.
IN PARTICULAR THE HEART OF NEW
HORIZONS IS BEATING AND BEATING
WELL AND BEATING STILL.
WAS PUT ON AND PRODUCED BY THE
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY, ONE OF OUR
MAJOR GOVERNMENT PARTNERS AND
WITH HIS RADIOISOTOPE POWER
ENABLES US TO MOVE FURTHER OUT
INTO THE SOLAR SYSTEM.
AND IT IS ON A TRAJECTORY TO
LEAVE.
CURRENTLY IT IS IF I CAN HAVE
OUR FIRST GRAPHIC.
HERE WE SEE NEW HORIZONS PASS
PLUTO.
THIS IS THROUGH THE EYES ON
SOLAR SYSTEM THAT YOU CAN GET
ACCESS TO THROUGH THE WEB.
AND AS YOU CAN SEE IT IS MORE
THAN 2 MILLION MILES AWAY FROM
PLUTO.
FOR TEN YEARS OR NEARLY TEN
YEARS THE NEW HORIZON TEAM WERE
ALWAYS TALKING ABOUT EACH DAY
WE’RE CLOSER TO PLUTO.
NOW EACH DAY WE’RE FURTHER AWAY.
BUT HERE IS WHERE IT COMES IN
THAT IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER.
AND THAT IS, IT’S DURING THIS
TIME THAT WE’RE GOING TO BE ABLE
TO OBTAIN THE DATA FROM THE
FLYBY.
RIGHT NOW WE’VE ONLY RECEIVED
1-2% OF THAT DATA ON THE GROUND.
BY NEXT WEEK WE’LL HAVE PERHAPS
AS MUCH AS 5 OR 6%.
SO SOME OF THE DISCOVERIES YOU
ARE GOING TO BE HEARING ABOUT
TODAY HAS ONLY BEEN THE TIP OF
THE ICEBERG AND THE FEW PERCENT
WE’VE GOTTEN DOWN SINCE THE
ENENCOUNTER OCCURRED ON TUESDAY
NIGHT.
WITHOUT FURTHER ADO HERE IS
DWAYNE TO INTRODUCE THE NEXT
SPEAKER.
>>AND ALLEN, GO FOR IT.
ALL YOURS.
SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T NEED AN
INTRODUCTION.
>>FANTASTIC.
WELL WE’RE REALLY HAPPY TO BE
HERE.
AND ON BEHALF OUR OUR ENTIRE
TEAM WE’VE HAD THE MOST FUN
COMMUNICATING ABOUT EXPLORATION
AND ABOUT JUST HOW EXCITING
SOLAR SYSTEM EXPLORATION IS THIS
WEEK.
BUT I THIS PLUTO IS BECOMING
SORT OF A BRAND.
SORT OF SELLS ITSELF.
AND YOU DON’T REALLY HAVE TO
WORK ALL THAT HARD.
I DO WANT TO RECOGNIZE THE TEAM
MEMBERS WHO ARE HERE.
WE HAVE QUITE A NUMBER OF
MEMBERS OF THE NEW HORIZONS
MISSION TEAM, IF THEY WOULD
STAND UP TO BE RECOGNIZED.
[ APPLAUSE ]
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
WE ALSO HAVE AND I’D LIKE TO
RECOGNIZE NEW SOME HORIZONS
MISSION EDUCATORS WHO ARE IN THE
AUDIENCE.
IF YOU WOULD STAND UP TO BE
RECOGNIZED.
[ APPLAUSE ]
AND THEN FINALLY, FINALLY I’D
LIKE TO RECOGNIZE ONE OF OUR
SCIENCE TEAM COLLABORATORS WHO’S
COME OVER FROM EUROPE TO HELP US
WORK WITH THE DATA A LITTLE BIT.
SOME OF YOU MAY KNOW DR. BRIAN
MAY.
[ APPLAUSE ]
>>I’M THE GUY†– I’M ONE OF
THOSE PEOPLE IN EUROPE WHO’S
BEEN FOLLOWING YOUR EVERY MOVE
ON OUR LAPTOPS AND TVS AND IN
OUR OFFICES AND IN OUR BEDROOMS.
IT IS A THRILL TO BE HERE WITH
YOU AND WHETHER AN AMAZING
ACHIEVEMENT.
YOU HAVE INSPIRED THE WORLD.
THANK YOU.
>>THANK YOU.
[ APPLAUSE ]
WELL, WHILE YOU ENJOY THIS
BEAUTIFUL EYE CANDY, THE PLUTO
SHARING SYSTEM IS REVEALED BY
NEW HORIZONS IN COLOR.
YOU REALLY SEE A BINARY PLANET.
ENJOY THAT VIEW WHILE I TELL YOU
NEWS ABOUT NEW HORIZONS.
THE SPACECRAFT IS DOING VERY
WELL.
WE’RE NOW A LITTLE OVER 2
MILLION MILES ON THE FAR SIDE OF
PLUTO.
SPACECRAFT IS PERFORMING
ACCORDING TO PLAN.
WE EXITED THE 9 DAY POST
APPROACH AND COUNTER LOAD JUST
YESTERDAY.
WE ARE NOW IN THE DEPARTURE
SCIENCE LOAD.
LOOKING AT THE BACK OF THE
PLANET AND LOOKING AT THE NIGHT
SIDE AND DOING VARIOUS
EXPERIMENTS AND ALSO DOING OUR
DOWN DOWN LINKING DATA.
AND WE’VE BEEN DOWNLOADING A LOT
OF DATA.
SO WE HAVE SOME BIG NEWS AND I
EXPECT WE’LL HAVE MORE BIG NEWS
NEXT FRIDAY WHEN WE’VE
DOWNLOADED EVEN MORE.
I’LL HAVE TO TELL YOU I’M A LIM
LITTLE BIASED.
BUT I THINK THE SOLAR SYSTEM
SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST.
I’M GOING TO SHOW YOU THINGS AND
I’M GOING START WITH THE LITTLE
NEWS AND PASS IT ALONG TO MY
COLLEAGUES.
IF I COULD HAVE THE NEXT TIME
STEP, THE NEXT GRAPHIC.
LET’S SEE IF WE CAN BRING THAT
UP.
THERE IT IS.
OKAY THAT IS NOT VERY MANY
PIXELS ACROSS.
BUT THAT IS PLUTO’S SATELLITE
NIX IN HIS FIRST IMAGE.
AS LITTLE AS THREE MONTHS AGO WE
DIDN’T HAVE PICTURES OF PLUTO
THIS GOOD.
AND THIS IS ACTUALLY ABOUT TWICE
AS MANY PIXELS AS THE BETH
EARTH-BASED VIEWS OF PLUTO.
WE WERE ABLE TO DETERMINE NIX’S
SIZE.
ABOUT 25 MILES ACROSS.
WE WERE ABLE TO MEASURE THE
BRIGHTNESS BETWEEN SHARON AND
PLUTO.
IN THIS VIEW WE BELIEVE WE’RE
LOOKING DOWN THE POLL OF AN
ELONGATED OBJECT.
ABOUT TWICE AS NARROW IN ONE
DIRECTION AS IT IS LONG.
AND WE’RE LOOKING DOWN THE
BARREL OF IT RIGHT THERE.
WE’LL HAVE MORE TO SAY ABOUT NIX
WHEN WE GET MORE ON THE GROUND
BUT A FASCINATING SATELLITE.
MOVE TO THE NEXT TIME STEP.
THIS IS OVERLAY OF DATA FROM THE
RALPH INSTRUMENT.
FOR THE FIRST TIME IDENTIFIES
THE LOCATION OF A CARBON
MONOXIDE RICH REGION ON PLUTO
THAT HAD BEEN OBSERVED FROM
EARTH FOR QUITE A LONG TIME.
NOW WE CAN ACTUALLY OVERLAY ON A
MAP.
NEW HORIZONS MAP PRODUCT THERE,
OVERLAYED WITH CONTOURS FOR
ABUNDANCE OF THIS CARBON
MONOXIDE.
AND YOU CAN SEE THE PEAK IS ON
THE WEST SIDE OF TOMBO REGIO, OR
THE HEART.
IT COULD BE THERE IS A SOURCE
REGION THERE AND WE’LL BE
LOOKING FOR IT HARD IN HIGH
RESOLUTION IMAGERY.
OR THERE COULD BE ANOTHER
REVELATION.
BUT EITHER WAY IT CATCH OURS EYE
BECAUSE ACROSS THE REST OF THIS
DISC THERE IS NO OTHER CARBON
MONOXIDE CONCENTRATION, ANYTHING
LIKE.
THIS WE ALREADY KNOW.
THAT IT IS A VERY SPECIAL PLACE
ON THE PLAN.
RANDY WILL SHOW YOU PROFOUND
RESULTS CONCERNING THE
ATMOSPHERE.
IN FACT THE FIRST RESULTS WE’LL
SHARE AND FRAN WILL SHARE WITH
YOU THE ESCAPING IONS FROM
PLUTO.
AND JEFF IS GOING TO TALK ABOUT
THE HIGH RESOLUTION.
I’M GOING TO GIVE YOU A PREVIEW.
AT THE NEXT GRAPHIC.
HAVE A LOOK AT THE ICY FROZEN
PLAINS OF PLUTO.
WHO WOULD HAVE EXPECTED THIS
KIND OF COMPLEXITY.
AND BY THE WAY THIS SCENE IS
ESSENTIALLY ADJACENT,
NEIGHBORING THE MOUNTAIN RANGES
THAT YOU SAW A COUPLE OF DAYS
AGO.
WE CAN SEE THAT THERE ARE STARK
CONTRASTS ON PLUTO IN TERMS OF
THE GEOLOGY.
JEFF WILL SHOW YOU A LOT MORE.
BUT I WANT TO SHOW YOU SOMETHING
ELSE.
I’M GOING TO SHOW YOU A GRAPHIC.
IT IS A FLYOVER MADE AS IF YOUR
EYE WAS 25 MILES OVER PLUTO.
AND WE CAN GO AHEAD AND START
THAT.
A FLYOVER OF FAR AWAY MOUNTAINS
AND PLAINS IN THE QUAKER BELT.
IF THEY CAN GO AHEAD AND CALL
THAT UP.
I THINK YOU WILL ENJOY SEEING
IT.
IF WE CAN LOWER†– PROBABLY
CAN’T LOWER HOUSE LIGHTS.
IS THAT AVAILABLE?
WE CAN’T SEE IT BACK HERE.
THERE IT IS.
WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING IS A SCENE
THAT IS ABOUT A TOTAL WIDTH
ABOUT 250 MILES ACROSS, 400
KILOMETERS.
AND THESE MOUNTAINS SOAR AS HIGH
ABOVE THEIR LOCAL TERRAIN AS
MANY OF THE MOUNTAINS IN THE
ROCKY MOUNTAINS DO HERE IN THE
UNITED STATES.
PRETTY IMPRESSIVE.
THE SECOND FLYOVER IS OF THE
PLANE WHICH I JUST SHOWED YOU
WHICH WE’RE CALLING SPUTNIK
PLANEM.
GIVES YOU A FEEL OF THE SCALE OF
FEATURES YOU WERE LOOKING AT.
BEAUTIFUL SURFACES.
THIS IS 400 METER PER PIXEL
IMAGERY.
AND BY NEXT WEEK WE’LL HAVE MORE
THAN TWICE AS MUCH AS THE THREE
FRAMES WE’VE ALREADY BEEN ABLE
TO SHARE BY THE END OF TODAY.
AND WE’LL SHARE THAT WITH YOU AS
WELL.
WITH THAT I’M GOING TURN IT OVER
THE RANDY GLADSTONE.
>>THANKS ALLEN.
IF WE COULD GO TO THE FIRST TIME
STEP.
AND I’LL SHOW YOU WHAT THE
ATMOSPHERE IS LOOKING AT.
WE’VE HAD TO WAIT TILL WE GOT
PAST PLUTO AND LOOKING BACK
TOWARDS THE SUN TO GET OUR BEST
DATA SET.
THIS SHOWS YOU WHAT IT LEASE
LIKE WHEN PLUTO GOES IN FRONT OF
THE SUN AS SEEN FROM THE
SPACECRAFT.
AND THE CURVES ON THE RIGHT SHOW
YOU TWO PLAUSIBLE ATMOSPHERIC
MODELS FOR PLUTO.
AND HERE WE SHOW YOU THE DATA WE
GOT COMING DOWN.
IT IS JUST COUNT RATE DATA.
EACH OF THOSE POINTS IS TEN
SECONDS.
BUT WE GET A†– FOR EVERY POINT
ON THERE WE’LL GET A WHOLE
SPECTRUM.
AND THEN ON THE WAY OUT IF WE
FLIP IT YOU SEE THE GREEN LINE
GOES BACK EXACTLY THE SAME SPOT.
SO THE ATMOSPHERE IS VERY
SYMMETRIC ON OPPOSITE SIDES OF
THE PLANET.
AND IT SEEMS TO BE MORE
CONSISTENT WITH THE RED LINE
WHICH IS MORE SLUGGISH
ATMOSPHERE OR STAGNANT.
SO WE’VE ALREADY ELIMINATED JUST
FROM THIS LITTLE BIT OF DATA A
GLIMPSE OF THE DATA ELIMINATES A
COUPLE OF MODELS THAT WERE
CONTENDERS UP TILL NOW.
SO THE NEXT SLIDE SHOWS YOU†–
THAT WAS ZOOMED IN AT JUST THE
SURFACE OF PLUTO.
BUT WE SEE THE ATMOSPHERE WAY
FAR OUT.
SO THIS IS HOW OUR COUNT RATE
WENT FROM THE BEGINNING ON THE
LEFT TO THE END IN THE RIGHT IN
THE RED AND WHITE CURVES AND
PLUTO IN THE MIDDLE.
SO WE SEE THE ATMOSPHERE ALL THE
WAY TO THE GROUND.
FROM EARTH THAT INNER CIRCLE
AROUND CLOSE TO PLUTO IS THE
HIGHEST STELLAR OPTICALS FROM
EARTH CAN SEE.
AND THEY CAN’T SEE TO THE
GROUND.
WE SEE FROM THE GROUND OUT TO
1,000 MILES ABOVE THE SURFACE.
SO YOU CAN SEE THIS ISN’T A
STRAIGHT SIMPLE CURVE.
IT DROPS SLOWLY AND THEN PICKS
UP AND THEN HAS ANOTHER BEND
WHERE IT PICKS UP AGAIN.
AT THE HIGHEST ALTITUDES THAT IS
MOLECULAR NITROGEN.
THE MAIN COMPONENT OF PLUTO’S
ATMOSPHERE AS IT STARTS TO
ABSORB SUNLIGHT.
AND LOWER DOWN METHANE KICKS IN.
AND EVEN LOWER IS HEAVIER
HYDROCARBONS NEAR THE SURFACE
ABSORBING THE SUNLIGHT.
SO EACH POINT ON THE GRAPH WILL
BE A WHOLE SPECTRUM OF COLORS IN
THE ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT WE’RE
GETTING THE SIGNAL FROM AND
WE’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO GETTING
THAT DATA IN A MONTH OR TWO.
BUT IT IS VERY TANTALIZING RIGHT
NOW AND IT ALREADY IS WE’RE ABLE
TO DO SCIENCE WITH IT.
BUT THAT NITROGEN ATMOSPHERE
BECAUSE PLUTO IS SO SMALL, IT
ESCAPES DIRECTLY INTO THE SPACE.
AND FRAN IS GOING TELL YOU WHAT
IT DOES.
>>WE’VE HAD NINE AND A HALF
YEARS OF THIS FLIGHT OUT TO
PLUTO TO THINK ABOUT WHAT ARE WE
GOING TO SEE WITH THE PLASMA
INSTRUMENTS.
WE HAVEN’T GOT ALL THE DATA DOWN
OZ F A YET AND WE’RE LOOKING
FORWARD TO GETTING IT DOWN.
IN THE MEANTIME RANDY HAS
DISCUSSED ALREADY WE KNOW THE
ATMOSPHERE IS NITROGEN AND WE
SUSPECT IT IS ESCAPING BECAUSE
OF THE WEAKER GRAVITY ON PLUTO.
THE GRAVITY IS A LOT WEAKER THAN
EARTH AND SO WE KNOW THAT IT’S
GOING AWAY.
WHAT WE THINK IS HAPPENING IS
THAT THE SOLAR WIND THAT COMES
FROM THE SUN, THE PROTONS AND
ELECTRONS RACING AT AT SPEEDS
WILL CRASH INTO AND INTERACT
WITH THIS ESCAPING ATMOSPHERE
AND THIS WILL PRODUCE WE THINK A
SHOCK UPSTREAM.
WE KNOW THERE IS AN UPSTREAM
AMOUNT OF NITROGEN IONS.
WE’VE ALREADY OBSERVED THAT WITH
NEW HORIZONS WITH THE PEPSI
INSTRUMENT.
WELL UPSTREAM.
AND THAT WAS ENERGIZED BY THE
SOLAR WIND AND CARRIED AWAY BY
THE WIND.
THE REAL QUESTION IS WHAT
HAPPENS WHEN IT INTERACTS WITH
THE DENSER SOLAR WIND THAT RANDY
WAS TALKING ABOUT.
AND THIS GRAPHIC YOU ARE LOOKING
AT GIVES YOU A SENSE OF WHAT WE
THINK HAPPENS.
AND IS THAT AS IT ESCAPES IT IS
IONIZED AND PICKED UP BY THE
SOLAR WIND.
AND THE SCIENCE ACTUALLY FILLS
OUT BEYOND THE SCALE OF THE
SATELLITE.
SO IT IS A LARGE VOLUME.
WE HAVE ACTUALLY FLOWN THROUGH
THIS WITH THE INSTRUMENTS.
AND THE NEXT SLIDE WILL SHOW YOU
WE THINK IS HAPPENING IS THAT
SWAP NOW HAS ACTUALLY DETECTED
THE IONIZED ATMOSPHERE.
THESE ARE NITROGEN MOLECULES
THAT ARE BEING IONIZED BY
PHOTONS FROM THE SUN.
AND ONCE THEY ARE IONIZE THEY
GET ENTRAINED IN THE SOLAR WIND
AND CARRIED AWAY.
SO WE SEE A TAIL BEHIND PLUTO OF
PARTICLES THAT ARE BEING CARRIED
AWAY BY THE SOLAR WIND.
WHEN WE GET THE RECORDS BACK IN
AUGUST OR SO WE’LL BE ABLE TO
QUANTIFY THE
AMOUNT OF THAT
ESCAPING ATMOSPHERE.
WHAT WE THINK IT IS BASED ON
MODELS AND A PRETTY GOOD GUESS
IS ABOUT 500 TONS PER HOUR OF
MATERIAL THAT IS BEING†– THAT
IS ESCAPING.
AND FOR COMPARISON WE KNOW THAT
THE ESCAPING ATMOSPHERE FOR MARS
WHICH IS BEING STUDIED BY NASA’S
MAVEN IS ABOUT 1 TON.
>>WHAT IS THE CONSEQUENCE OF
THAT?
IF YOU ADD THAT UP ROUGHLY OVER
THE AGE OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM,
THIS IS ON THE EQUIVALENT OF 1
TO 9,000 FEET.
SO THAT IS A SUBSTANTIAL
MOUNTAIN OF ICE.
NITROGEN ICE THAT IS BEING
REMOVED FROM THIS EVAPORATION
AND ESCAPE INTO THE ATMOSPHERE.
AND ALLEN STERN HAS WORKED
PREDICTING WHAT THIS WILL DO TO
THE GEOLOGY.
AND THEY HAVE A PREDICTION
PAPER.
BUT JEFF ARE GOING TO LOOK AT
THE GEOLOGY AND TELL US WHAT
ACTUALLY HAPPENED.
>>INDEED WE WILL.
WELL I’M STILL HAVING TO REMIND
MYSELF TO TAKE DEEP BREATHS.
THE LANDSCAPE IS JUST
ASTOUNDINGLY AMAZING.
IN FACT LET’S GO BACK TO THIS
PICTURE THAT WE TALKED ABOUT A
FEW DAYS AGO WHEN IT WAS STILL A
GLOBAL VIEW AND REMIND OURSELVES
THAT THE GLOBAL VIEW SHOWS SOME
SURFACES ARE THE PEPPERED WITH
THE IMPACT CRATERS AND ARE
MILLIONS OF YEARS OLD.
SOME OTHER REGIONS SUCH AS THE
INTERIOR OR THE HEART SHOW NO
CRATERS AT ALL.
AND OBVIOUSLY YOUNGER.
AND ALL OF THIS SHOWS THAT PLUTO
HAS A LONG AND COMPLEX
GEOLOGICAL HISTORY.
SOME OF THE CRATERS APPEAR
PARTIALLY DESTROYED, PERHAPS BY
EROSION.
AND THERE ARE ALSO PARTS OF
PLUTO’S CROSS THAT HAVE BEEN
FRACTURED AND THUS THERE’S
PROBABLY BEEN SOME FORCES OF THE
TECTONICS.
AND ALSO HIGHER RESOLUTION
IMAGES SHOW THERE ARE CRATERS
THAT MAY HAVE BEEN PARTIALLY
ERODED I WAY.
SO EROSION PROCESSES ALSO SEEM
TO BE OPERATING ON PLUTO.
AND THE NEXT TIME STEP, PLEASE.
NEXT SLIDE PLEASE.
SO LET’S ZOOM IN TO OUR THREE
IMAGE MOSAIC OF THE 400 METER
PER PIXEL IMAGING THAT WE’VE
TAKEN.
HERE ARE THE PROVINCES OF THE
TWO MILE HIGH MOUNTAINS WHICH
WE’RE NOW CALLING ENORGEMONTEZ.
AND THE EXTREMELY YOUNG PLAINS
MAKING UP THE NORTHERN HALF OF
THE IMAGE.
THIS IMAGE IS ORGANIZED NORTH
AND SOUTH.
YOU SEE HERE ARE THE NAMES WE’VE
ASSIGNED TO THEM.
WE DECIDED TO NAME SPUTNIK
PLANUM AFTER THE FIRST
ARTIFICIAL SATELLITE LAUNCHED
INTO THE SPACE AND STARTING THE
SPACE AGE.
AND FIRST NEPALESE TO HAVE A
NAME ON ANY PLANET IN THE SOLAR
SYSTEM.
LET’S HAVE THE NEXT TIME STEP,
PLEASE.
LET’S LOOK AT THIS LITTLE REGION
HERE IN THE MIDDLE OF SPUTNIK
PLANEM.
I SAW THIS IMAGE THE FIRST TIME
I DECIDED I WAS GOING TO CALL IT
NOT EASY TO EXPLAIN TERRAIN.
THIS IS THE FROZEN PLAINS OF
PLUTO.
WHEN YOU LOOK AT THIS PLAINS,
YOU CAN CLEARLY SEE VAST COLLATE
†– CRATERLESS PLAINS.
JUDGING FROM THE ABSENCE OF
CRATERS IT IS CLEAR THAT SPUTNIK
PLANUM COULDN’T BOEBL POSSIBLY
MORE THAN A HUNDRED YEARS OLD.
AND STILL BE SHAPED BY TECTONIC
PROCESSES.
THIS
IS ABOUT A HALF A MILE
ACROSS.
NEXT SLIDE PLEASE.
THE SURFACE IS BROKEN INTO THE
POLYGONALLY SHAPED SEGMENTS.
THAT ARE ROUGHLY 12-20 MILES
ACROSS.
THEY ARE BORDERED AS YOU CAN SEE
BY APPEAR TO BE SHALLOW TROUGHS.
SOME OF THESE TROUGHS HAVE
DARKER MATERIAL THAT SEEMS TO BE
IN MATERIAL THAT’S COLLECTED
THERE OR ERUPTED THERE.
I DON’T KNOW.
BUT SOME OF THE TROUGHS DO HAVE
WHAT APPEARS TO BE JUST DARK
STUFF.
MUCH MORE ENIGMATIC ARE THESE
CLUSTERS OF HILLS WHICH I THINK
YOU CAN SEE IN THE UPPER RIGHT
OF THE FRAME.
THEY APPEAR TO BE ELONGATED
LUMPS OF MOUNDS AND TRACE OUT
THE SHAPES OF THE TROUGHS THAT
ENCIRCLE THE POLYGONS.
ABOUT THE ONLY THING YOU CAN SAY
FOR THE HILLS EXCEPT FOR THEIR
SMOOTHNESS IS THAT THE HILLS ARE
HIGHER THAN THE SURROUNDING
TERRAIN.
WE DON’T HAVE A VALUE FOR THAT
YET BUT THIS IS PART OF A BIGGER
SEQUENCE WE TOOK.
SO WHEN WE GET THE DATA DOWN WE
CAN TELL YOU EXACTLY HOW HIGH
AND EXACTLY HOW THEY ARE SHAPED
WHICH WILL GO A LONG WAY TO IN
FACT HELP US INTERPRET WHAT
CREATED THESE HILLS.
WE HAVE†– WE SUSPECT THE HILLS
MAY HAVE EITHER BEEN PUSHED UP
FROM UNDERNEATH ALONG THE
CRACKS.
BUT ALTERNATIVELY ANOTHER
EXPLANATION IS THEY ARE EROSION
RESISTANT NOBS STANDING OUT AS
THE SURFACE IS BEING LOWERED.
WE DON’T KNOW WHICH IS CORRECT
BUT THEY CAN GO EITHER WAY.
THEY CAN EITHER BE POPPING UP OR
EMERGING FROM EROSION LOWERING
PROCESS THAT IS LOWERING THE
ENTIRE PLAINS.
IN THE TERRAIN IN THE LOWER
RIGHT I THINK YOU CAN SEE THERE
ARE POLYGONS APPEAR TO BE ETCHED
BY FIELDS OF SMALL PITS.
WE’LL VERY SOON RECEIVE THE SAME
IMAGES WITHOUT ANY COMPRESSION.
AND I THINK THE ISSUE OF WHETHER
THAT IS INDEED VAST SCENES OF
PITS WILL BE VERIFIED PROBABLY
PRETTY STRAIGHTFORWARD WAY.
SIMILAR FEATURES TO THESE VAST
PITTED SURFACES CAN BE SEEN, FOR
INSTANCE, ON THE SURFACES OF
GLACIERS HERE ON THE EARTH.
AND ON RESTIAL†– TERRESTRIAL.
>>WHAT DO THESE FEATURES TELL
US?
ONE IS THAT THE POLYGONS ARE
SIGNS OF CONVECTION OCCURRING
WITHIN A SURFACE LAYER OF THE
CARBON MONOXIDE METHANE AND
NITROGEN IONS DRIVEN FROM THE
INTERIOR OF PLUTO ITSELF
CREATING KIND OF THE SAME SORT
OF PATTERNS YOU SEE WHEN YOU
LOOK AT THE SURFACE OF A BOILING
POT OF OATMEAL OR LIKE THE BLOBS
IN A LAVA LAMP.
ALTERNATIVELY THEY COULD BE
ANALOGOUS TO MUD CRACKS AND
CREATED BY CONTRACTION OF THE
SURFACE MATERIALS.
WE HAVE WAYS TO TEST THOSE IDEAS
AND WILL BE REPORTING IN
UPCOMING CONFERENCES AND
SCIENTIFIC PAPERS.
AND WE’LL LEARN MORE ABOUT THESE
FEATURES AND TERRAIN IN MUCH
HIGHER RESOLUTION AND
STEREOCOVERAGE WHICH IS STILL UP
ON THE SPACECRAFT IS GOING TO
COME DOWN IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS
AND IN FACT I THINK 20 YEARS AGO
PEOPLE ARE GOING TO LOOK AT THE
FOOTAGE OF THE THIS AREA IN
PARTICULAR.
IT JUST WORKED OUT THAT WAY
THAT, YOU KNOW, THE FACETS FAVOR
US TO PUT THE MOST INTERESTING
PLACES DIRECTORY IN THE SIGHTS
OF YOU ARE A HIGHEST QUALITY
DATA.
TO BE MORE SPECULATIVE WE ALSO
SAW ONE OTHER THING.
LET’S ZOOM INTO THIS AREA THAT
IS JUST NORTHWEST OF THE ONE YOU
JUST LOOKED AT.
THERE YOU GO.
SO THESE DARK SMUDGES APPEAR TO
BE ALIGNED AND RUNNING FROM
UPPER LEFT TO LOWER RIGHT.
AND MAY HAVE BEEN PRODUCED BY
WINDS BLOWING ACROSS PLUTO’S ICY
SURFACE.
MAY I HAVE THE NEXT SLIDE
PLEASE.
AND SO ON BOTH MARS AND EARTH
SIMILAR FEATURES ARE WHAT
SCIENTISTS CALL WIND STREAKS AND
ARE PREVAILING CAUSE EROSION OR
DEPOSITION MATERIAL BEHIND THE
TOPOGRAPHIC OBSTACLES.
AND DON’T ASK WHAT THE
TOPOGRAPHIC OBSTACLES ARE
BECAUSE WE CAN’T TELL YOU YET.
AND ALTERNATIVELY THIS IS EVEN
MORE SPECULATIVE THEY MAY BE
PLUME DEPOSITS.
THE PLUMES THEMSELVES F THEY
EXIST ON PLUTO HAVE NOT BEEN
SPOTTED YET.
SO THIS IS NOT AN ANNOUNCEMENT
THAT WE’VE SPOTTED PLUMES OR
GEYSERS OR ANYTHING LIKE ON
PLUTO BUT OF COURSE WE’LL BE
LOOKING FOR THEM.
LET ME CONCLUDE BY SAYING THESE
ARE EARLY DAYS OF THE POST
ENCOUNTER ANALYSIS AND AS
EXTRAORDINARY AND PROVOCATIVE AS
THESE IMAGES ARE, WE ARE IN THE
MOST PRELIMINARY STAGES OF
INVESTIGATIONS AND WE’RE STILL
ENTERTAINING THE WIDEST RANGE OF
HYPOTHESES.
WE ARE ACUTELY AWARE THAT
JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS COMES AT
GREAT PERIL.
WITH THAT CAVEAT BACK TO DWAYNE.
>>THANK YOU ALL.
LET’S GIVE THIS TEAM A ROUND OF
APPLAUSE.
[ APPLAUSE ]
>>MUCH MUCH MORE TO COME.
NOW WE TRANSITION INTO THE Q AND
A.
WE’RE GOING TO START HERE WITH
NASA HEADQUARTERS AND THE
MEETING AND AUDIENCE AND THEN
ANY QUESTIONS FROM PHONE BRIDGE
AND OF COURSE SOCIAL MEDIA.
WAIT FOR THE MIC.
RAISE YOUR HAND.
AND GIVE YOUR NAME AND
AFFILIATION, PLEASE.
>>STEVEN YOUNG WITH ASTRONOMY
NOW MAGAZINES.
WE HEARD HOW THIS IS JUST THE
TIP OF THE ICEBERG AND ALSO IN
THE IMAGES, YOU CAN SEE THEY ARE
COMPRESSED.
CAN YOU QUALIFY HOW MUCH YOU
HAVE ON THE GROUND RIGHT NOW
VERSUS HOW MUCH SON THE
SPACECRAFT WAITING TO COME DOWN
AND WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE GOING
TO BE WHEN WE SEE THE
UNCOMPRESSED VERSION.
>>IN VERY ROUND NUMBERS WE HAVE
ABOUT 50 GIG BITS OF DATA THAT
WAS MADE IN THE BEGINNING ABOUT
TEN DAYS BEFORE CLOSEST
APPROACH.
AND THAT 50 GIGA BITS IS THE
FULL AMOUNT WE’LL STORE THROUGH
THE END OF THIS MONTH.
INCLUDING THAT WHICH WE HAVEN’T
YET TAKEN.
ALL THAT WILL COME TO THE GROUND
WITH LESS COMPRESSION.
ABOUT 2 TO 1 COMPRESSION, IT
DOESN’T INTRODUCE ANY SORT OF
NOISE.
BUT THE OTHER COMPRESSION CAN
GET IMAGES TO THE GROUND WITH
EXPENSE OF SOME NOISE.
VERY EFFICIENT AT THE BEGINNING
TO SEND HOME THE BROWSE DATA
SET, AS WE CALL IT.
CONCERTED EFFORT TO GET
EVERYTHING TO THE GROUND THAT
CAN BE COMPRESSED WILL BEGIN IN
SEPTEMBER.
AND THAT WILL TAKE ABOUT 10
WEEKS, MAYBE 12.
DEPENDING UPON DSN SCHEDULES AND
OTHER FACTORS.
WE CURRENTLY HAVE ON THE GROUND
LESS THAN 1 OF THOSE 50 GIGA
BITS.
PROBABLY AROUND 1 GIGA BIT.
WE CAN GET YOU A MORE ACCURATE
NUMBER IF IT’S HELPFUL.
>>ERIC HAND WITH SCIENCE
MAGAZINE.
MY QUESTION IS FOR RANDY.
YOU MENTIONED THAT YOU THINK YOU
HAVE RULED OUT THIS TURBULENT
MODEL FOR THE ATMOSPHERE AND YOU
THINK IT’S MAYBE MORE SLUGGISH
OR STAGNANT.
WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS OF
THAT FOR TRANSPORT OF MATERIALS
AROUND THE PLANET VIA FROST?
AND DOES IT, YOU KNOW, HAVE ANY
EFFECTS ON MAYBE WHAT YOU ARE
STARTING TO SEE ON THE SURFACE
WITH THESE WIND STREAKS?
IS THIS AN ATMOSPHERE THAT BLOWS
AROUND ALL THE TIME OR MAYBE NOT
SO MUCH.
>>YEAH.
GOOD QUESTION.
WE STILL DON’T HAVE A GOOD
MEASURE OF THE LOWEST ATMOSPHERE
WHERE IT’S VERY COMPLICATED.
WE THINK OF ALL THE ATMOSPHERE
ON PLUTO AS SORT OF COMPRESSED
INTO A VERY THIN LAYER ON THE
SURFACE WHERE THE WINDS CAN BE
UP TO A FEW METERS PER SECOND,
EASILY.
AND THOSE NUMBERS ARE GOOD
ENOUGH TO LAUNCH OR LOFT
PARTICLES OFF THE SURFACE, YOU
KNOW, MICRON SIZES.
SO IT IS NOT INCONSISTENT AT ALL
EVEN WITH A SLUGGISH ATMOSPHERE
TO BE ABLE TO MOVE STUFF AROUND
STILL.
WE THINK IT IS FINE, OR
CONSISTENT, SO FAR.
>>.
AVIATION WEEK.
AT THIS POINT HAVE YOU LEARNED
ANYTHING THAT WILL HELP YOU
UNDERSTAND WHAT HAPPENS ON THE
SURFACE OF PLUTO HAS IT GOES
THROUGH ITS LONG ORBIT?
>>WE’VE UNDERSTOOD THE PHYSICS
OF MULTIPLE TRANSPORT COUPLED
WITH THE ATMOSPHERIC ESCAPE VERY
WELL FOR A LONG TIME.
BUT HAVEN’T HAD THE BOUNDARY
CONDITIONS TO BE ABLE TO RUN
THOSE MODELS IN A WAY WE’D LIKE
TO.
WE DON’T KNOW, WE HAVEN’T KNOWN
UNTIL NOW THE DETAILS OF WHERE
THE BRIGHT AREAS ARE AND THE
DARKER ONES ARE.
AND THAT CAN RELATE TO WHERE
AREAS HEAT UP.
PARTICULARLY PLACES DEVOID OF
MOLECULES MIGHT HAVE HIGHER
SWINGS.
IN THE COMING MONTHS WE’RE GOING
TO SEE MANY MORE MAPS COME TO
THE GROUND ALL OF WHICH WILL
MAKE TREMENDOUS INPUT TO BE ABLE
TO INFORM US TO RUN THE MODELS
TO THE REAL PLUTO.
AND NEW HORIZONS PAY LODE WAS
SELECTED TO MAKE THOSE KIND OF
ANSWERS AND QUESTIONS.
BECAUSE THE SURFACE IS
ELLIPTICAL AND THE PLANET’S POLE
VECTOR IS TILTED OVER.
IT’S OBLIQUITY IS VERY HIGH.
IT IS A PRETTY COMPLEX
SITUATION.
WE KNOW HOW TO MODEL IT AND ONCE
WE GET THIS DATA ON THE GROUND I
THINK WE’RE GOING TO GET SOME
SPECTACULAR RESULTS.
IT WILL SHOW US NOT WHAT HAPPENS
AROUND A 248 YEAR ORBIT WHICH
ITSELF IS INTERESTING BUT OVER
MUCH LONGER TIME SCALES.
I’M INTERESTED IN HOW THE
VOLATILES TRANSPORT OVER LONG
TIMES AROUND THE PLANET AND
WHETHER SUFFICIENT MATERIAL
MOVES AROUND THE PLANET TO
ACTUALLY OR TO POTENTIALLY BURY
STRUCTURES OR BE REMOVED FROM
STRUCTURES SO THAT WE SEE THEM
AT DIFFERENT TIMES IN PLUTO’S
SEASONAL CYCLES.
THE CLIMATE CYCLES HAVE VERY
LONG PERIODS IN SOME CASES.
EVERYBODY IS AWARE OF THE 248
YEAR ORBITAL CYCLE.
BUT THE POLE VECTOR ACTUALLY
CIRCULATES OVER A 4 MILLION YEAR
CYCLE WHICH AVERAGES OVER MANY
MANY ORBITS.
RUNNING THE MODELS IS GOING TO
BE FASCINATING AND WE’RE GOING
TO HAVE THE DATA ON THE GROUND
TO DO IT.
REALLY HAM TER NAIL ON THE HEAD.
>>I’M GOING TO GO TO THE PHONE
LINES AND FOR THE MEDIA LIKE
WE’VE HAD AT ALL OF OUR BRIEFS.
LOTS OF MEDIA FROM AROUND THE
WORLD ARE GOING TO ASK
QUESTIONS.
I WANT TO GET TO AS MANY AS
POOBL POSSIBLE.
SO PLEASE LIMIT YOUR QUESTIONS
TO ONE.
ON THE PHONE LINE FIRST NBC
NEWS, ALLEN BOYLE.
>>THANK YOU.
THIS MIGHT BE FOR JEFF OR ALLEN.
JUST LOOKING AT THAT HILLY
TERRAIN AND POTENTIAL FOR
PLUMES, CAN YOU SAY ANYTHING
FURTHER ABOUT WHETHER THERE IS
TRITON-LIKE TERRAIN?
WHAT SORTS OF SIMILARITIES DO
YOU SEE TO WHAT FOLKS HAVE SEEN
ON TRITON AND HOW DO YOU HOPE TO
RESOLVE THE ISSUE ABOUT THOSE
PLUMES OR WIND STREAKS?
>>FIRST OF ALL, AS I SAID
BEFORE WE ARE NOT MAKING AN
ANNOUNCEMENT THAT WE’VE SEEN
PLUMES IN ANY WAY.
AS FAR AS COMPARING TO TRITON,
WELL THE SAD STORY FOR TRITON IS
IT DIDN’T HAVE A NEW HORIZONS
ENCOUNTER.
THE DATA SET WE HAVE FOR TRITON
IS ABOUT TWICE AS†– WELL LET ME
PUT IT THIS WAY.
THE VERY BEST IMAGES WE EVER
TOOK OF TRITON UNDER THE BEST OF
CIRCUMSTANCES ARE ONLY JUST AS
GOOD AS THE PICTURES WE’VE SHOWN
YOU SO FAR.
AND ALMOST ALL OF TRITON’S IMAGE
ARE MUCH WORSE RESOLUTION OF THE
IMAGES THAT WE’VE SHOWN YOU.
AND OUR IMAGES IN CONTRAST.
THESE ARE JUST KIND OF THE
MIDDLE RESOLUTIONS FOR US
COMPARED TO THE REALLY GOOD
STUFF WE HAVEN’T EVEN SEEN YET.
IT IS HARD TO COMPARE PLUTO AND
TRITON IN SUBSTANCE BECAUSE WE
NEED TO SEE TRITON BETTER.
HAVING SAID THAT.
NOT ONLY DID THE SCIENTISTS IN
1989 SEE ACTIVE PLUMES ON
TRITON, TRITON APPEARED TO BE
COVERED WITH A NUMBER OF DARK
ALIGNED MARKS WHICH ARE
INTERPRETED AS WIND STREAKS.
SO TO THE EXTENT THAT WE CAN
COMPARE OUR GOOD DATA WITH
TRITON DATA AND THE BEST TRITON
DATA WAS ACTUALLY OVER THEIR
WIND TERRAIN.
WEATHER COMPARABLE.
>>JEFF IT’S PROBABLY WORTHWHILE
TO SPEAK TO THE COMPARATIVE
DIFFERENCES TO DO WITH OUR
DETECTION OF MOUNTAIN RANGES
RIGHT OFF THE BAD AND THE
POLYGONAL TERRAIN.
>>FOR ONE THING, PEOPLE HAVE
FOR MANY YEARS, WONDERED WHETHER
THESE VERY EVOLVED YOUNG
TERRAINS YOU SEE ON THE GIANT
ICY MOONS OF THE GAS AN GIANTS
WERE MADE THAT WAY BECAUSE OF A
PROCESS CALLED TIDAL HEATING
WHERE THE MOONS INTERACT WITH
THEMSELVES AND THE BODY THEY ARE
ORBITING AROUND TO BASICALLY
HEAT UP THE INTERIORS THROUGH
FRICTION.
AND PEOPLE SEE VOLCANOS ERUPTING
THEY ATTRIBUTE IT TO THIS
PROCESS TIDAL TORQUE HEATING.
BUT THE QUESTION, COULD ICY
WORLDS ALSO BE GEOLOGICALLLY
ACTIVE?
AND THE ANSWER IS OBVIOUSLY YES.
PLUTO IS EVERY BIT AS
GEOLOGICALLLY ACTIVE AS ANY
PLACE WE’VE SEEN IN THE SOLAR
SYSTEM.
AND THIS ANSWERS A FUNDAMENTAL
QUESTION ABOUT ARE ICE WORLDS
ABLE TO DO THEIR THING ON THEIR
OWN RIGHT OR THE HELP OF THE BIG
PLANETS THEY ORBIT AROUND.
>>NEXT UP PETE STOTTS,
CHRISTIAN SCIENTIST MONITOR.
>>THANKS VERY MUCH.
DR. MOOR I THINK, ONE OF THE
DETAILED QUESTIONS WHEN YOU WERE
TALKING ABOUT THE HEIGHTS OF
THESE HILLS AS BEING ABOVE THE
SURROUNDING TERRAIN.
IS THAT THE TERRAIN TRENCHES OR
THE ACTUAL INTERIORS OF THE
POLYGONS.
AND DO YOU HAVE ANY DEPTH
ESTIMATES FOR THE TROUGHS AND
ANY BALLPARK ESTIMATES FOR THE
HEIGHT OF THE HILLS.
>>THE HEIGHT OF THE HILLS
APPEAR†– AND WE DON’T HAVE ANY
QUANTITATIVE DATA TO SAY MUCH
MORE THAN THIS.
APPEAR TO BE A LITTLE HIGHER
THAN THE SURFACE REPRESENTED BY
THE POLYGONS.
WE DON’T HAVE ANY DIRECT
MEASUREMENT OS SHADOWS AND SO
ON.
AS I SAID BEFORE WE’LL BE
RECEIVING DATA SIX ORE SEVEN
TIMES HIGHER RESOLUTION AND IN
STEREO.
SO WE CAN GIVE YOU THE ANSWER
EXPLICITLY VERY SOON IN THE NEXT
FEW MONTHS.
>>KEN KRAMER, UNIVERSITY TODAY.
>>GREAT RESULTS.
MY QUESTION ALSO ON THE
POLYGONS.
PHOENIX LANDED ON POLYGONS A FEW
YEARS BACK.
IS THAT A REASONABLE COMPARISON
AT ALL?
IS THERE ANY RELATIONSHIP TO
THEM AT ALL?
OR ARE THEY TOTALLY DIFFERENT?
>>YOU ARE RIGHT THAT WHEN YOU
LOOK AT LARGE POLYGONS ELSEWHERE
IN THE SOLAR SYSTEM, THE SURFACE
THAT IS MOST REMINISCENT OF THE
SURFACE WE ARE LOOKING AT IS THE
HIGH ALTITUDES†– SORRY, THE
HIGH LATITUDES OF THE NORTHERN
HEMISPHERE OF MARS.
AND INDEED THE PHOENIX LANDER
DID LAND ON SUCH POLYGONAL
TERRAIN NEAR THE ARCTIC OF MARS.
HAVING SAID THAT WE’RE
ENTERTAINING TWO ALTERNATE
EXPLANATIONS AND I THINK RIGHT
THIS SECOND THE GEOLOGY TEAM MAY
WEAKLY FAVOR THE IDEA THAT SOME
FORM OF INTERNAL CONVECTION MAY
BE RESPONSIBLE.
BUT AS I SAID WE ARE STILL VERY
VERY OPEN TO THE IDEA THAT THESE
COULD BE DUE TO CONTRACTION AND
THERMAL CONTRACTION FORMING THE
POLYGONS, ESSENTIALLY
RESPONSIBLE FOR THE POLYGONS ON
MARS.
THAT IN COMBINATION WITH.
SO COULD BE MORE ANALOGOUS.
IT IT IS JUST REALLY TOO EARLY
TO SAY.
>>WE’RE STILL ON THE PHONE
LINE.
WE’RE GOING TO DO THREE MORE
CALLS FROM THE PHONE.
SOCIAL MEDIA AND THEN WE’RE
GOING TO COME BACK HERE FOR THE
MEDIA IN THE AUDIENCE.
DAVE MOSIER.
FROM BUSINESS INSIDER.
>>THANK YOU.
CONGRATULATIONS ON THE MISSION.
THIS IS FOR JIM.
MAYBE FOR ALLEN.
YOU MENTIONED THE BEATING HEART
OF NEW HORIZONS.
THERE IS ONLY SO MUCH PLUTONIUM
238 LEFT.
HOW IS THE CURRENT SUPPLY CRUNCH
LIMITING FUTURE MISSIONS NASA IS
DREAMING UP?
>>CURRENTLY WE HAVE OUR
PLUTONIUM IS BEING OF COURSE
MANAGED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF
ENERGY.
WE DO HAVE A FAIR AMOUNT OF IT.
IT IS APPROXIMATELY 17 OR SO
KILOGRAMS OF PLUTONIUM THAT IS
AVAILABLE TO US THAT COULD BE
USED RIGHT AWAY.
WE HAVE ADDITIONAL PLUTONIUM.
IT DOESN’T HAVE QUITE THE ENERGY
DENSITY WE NEED TO ACTUALLY USE
IN THESE MISSIONS.
BUT WE’VE ALSO BEEN GIVEN
APPROVAL BY CONGRESS AND SUPPORT
BY THE ADMINISTRATION TO BE ABLE
TO START GENERATING PLUTONIUM
238.
THAT IS REALLY GOOD NEWS.
THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY HAS
CREATED A PROCESS, AND THEY HAVE
VERIFIED IT, TO TAKE NEPTUNEIUM
IRRADIATE IT IN SOME OF THE
REACTORS AND THE REACTION ENDS
UP PROVIDING ONE OF THE BOILING
POINTS OF THE PLUTONIUM 238 AND
THEN THAT CAN BE EXTRACTED AND
STORED.
SO RIGHT NOW WE FEEL REALLY GOOD
THAT WE’RE IN THE POSITION TO BE
GOOD STEWARDS OF THE PLANETARY
PROGRAM FOR MANY DECADES TO
COME.
WE HAVE ADEQUATE RESERVES OF
PLUTONIUM ON THE GROUND AND
INDEED WILL BE MAKING IT
STARTING LATE THIS DECADE, EARLY
NEXT ON A REGULAR BASIS.
>>KELLY, BEATTIE, SKON
TELESCOPE.
>>THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
I’M GOING TO JUMP AHEAD A LITTLE
IN THE PLAYBOOK FOR ALLEN OR
RANDY.
DO YOU SEE ANYTHING IN THE DATA
TO SUGGEST SHARON HAS AN
ATMOSPHERE?
>>WE DON’T HAVE ANY DATA YET.
THEY WILL BE COMING IN THE NEXT
THREE TO FIVE DAYS†– YEAH.
SUNDAY.
SO WEED WE’LL GET BACK THE YOU
ON THAT.
>>LAST QUESTION BEFORE WE GET
TO SOCIAL MEDIA.
MIKE WALSH, SPACE.COM.
>>THIS IS HOW HOLD THE TERRAINS
ARE.
DO WE KNOW ABOUT IMPACT RATES,
CRATERING RATES TO MAKE GUESSES
EVEN ON THE TERRAIN WHERE THERE
ARE CRATERS?
OR ARE CRATERING RATES LOWER
THAN THEY ARE CLOSER TO THE SUN?
AND THAT’S A TOTALLY DIFFERENT
BALL GAME OUT THERE?
>>THE WAY WE ESTIMATE THAT IS
SEVERAL WAYS.
FIRST OF ALL WE HAVE SEEN CRATER
SURFACES ON THE MOONS OF THE
URANUS AND NEPTUNE.
WE STUDY THE LARGER COMPONENTS
OF THE KIPER BELT DOWN TO A FEW
MILLIMETERS ACROSS WITH HUBBLE
TELESCOPES.
BY LOOKING A AT THE CRATERING ON
URANUS, NEPTUNE AND SATURN AND
THE NUMBERS AND DISTRIBUTION OF
OBJECTS IN THE KIPER BELT, THERE
HAVE BEEN SEVERAL STUDIES WHICH
HAVE DERIVED A APPROXIMATION OF
THE CRATER FLUX RATE.
SO IT IS FAR FROM PRECISE
NUMBER.
AND WE CAN OFTEN TELL YOU IF THE
SURFACE IS EXTREMELY OLD OR
EXTREMELY YOUNG.
IT’S OFTEN HARDER TO TELL IF
IT’S INTERMEDIATE AGES.
YOU HAVE FACTOR OF FOUR
UNCERTAINTIES IN THESE.
WE CERTAINLY UNDERSTAND THE
CRATERING RATES WELL ENOUGH TO
SEE A SURFACE THAT HAS NO
CRATERS IT IS DIFFICULT TO SEE
HOW IT COULD BE MUCH OLDER THAN
100 MILLION YEARS.
>>AS I SAID EARLIER, THE WORLD
HAS EMBRACED THIS WITH BILLIONS
AND SOCIAL MEDIA IS CERTAINLY A
BIG PART OF THAT AND NASA ALWAYS
LOOKING TO REACH OUT TO NEW
AUDIENCES.
SO WHAT IS OUT THERE IN THE
WORLD.
>>FIRST QUESTION FROM TWITTER
USING WHO ASKS HOW DO WE KNOW
PLUTO’S ATMOSPHERE IS ESCAPING?
HOW IS THAT MEASUREMENT MADE.
>>WE HAVE NOT YET ACTUALLY
MEASURED THE ESCAPE.
WE HOPE TO.
CURRENTLY IT IS BASED ON
EXPECTATIONS, UNDERSTANDING THE
GRAVITY OF PLUTO, THAT IT IS
RELATIVELY WEAK AND THAT WE
EXPECT IT TO BE ESCAPING.
FURTHER MORE WE KNOW THAT THERE
IS A LITTLE BIT OF METHANE AND
MAYBE RANDY CAN TELL YOU MORE
ABOUT THAT.
BUT WE KNOW THIS METHANE IN THE
ATMOSPHERE AND WE KNOW FROM
EARTH THAT METHANE IS A
GREENHOUSE GAS THAT ABSORBS THE
SUNLIGHT.
AND THE ENERGY OF SUNLIGHT IN
THE ATMOSPHERE GIVES IT THAT
ENERGY TO ESCAPE THE GRAVITY.
WE’RE PRETTY SURE THAT IS
HAPPENING AND HAVEN’T GOT A
DIRECT MEASUREMENT BUT WE WILL
HAVE MEASUREMENTS TO COMPARE
WITH THE ATMOSPHERIC
OBSERVATIONS COMING FROM THE
ALEX AND REX TEAMS.
>>NEXT QUESTION FROM JASON, WHO
SORT OF MATERIAL COULD BE
RESPONSIBLE FOR PLUTO’S DARK
SCENES?
ORGANICS?
>>JEFF, DO YOU WANT TO
SPECULATE?
>>SURE.
WHY NOT?
>>I DON’T.
>>THE LEAST CRAZY IDEA, WHICH I
THINK WE’RE STILL WORKING ON.
I KNOW THIS WILL HOPEFULLY BEEN
DETERMINED WITH THE
SPECTROMETER.
THE DARK STAINS, WELL THE
COMPOSITION ARE PROBABLY JUST
HIGHER HYDROCARBONS MADE BY THE
IRRADIATION OF METHANE.
IT CAN BE EITHER E RADIATED ON A
SURFACE ICE OR IRRADIATED MORE
LIKELY AND COMMONLY AS PARTICLES
HIGHER UP IN THE ATMOSPHERE THAT
VERY SLOWLY RAIN DOWN TO THE
SURFACE.
AND, FOR INSTANCE, THE STREAKS
IF THEY IN FACT TURN OUT TO BE
WIND STREAKS ARE PROBABLY JUST
VERY FINE PARTICLES THAT SLOWLY
FALL OUT OF THE ATMOSPHERE AND
WIND SWEEPS THEM AND THEY GET
WIND TRAPPED BEHIND OBSTACLES.
>>LET’S TAKE ONE MORE AND THEN
WE’LL COME BACK HERE JASON.
>>LOTS OF QUESTIONS ABOUT
ELEVATION.
THIS IS FROM GEORGE.
WILL THE DATA COLLECTED FROM NEW
HORIZONS BE SUFFICIENT TO CREATE
PLUTO AND SHARON ELEVATION MAPS?
>>ABSOLUTELY.
THE SURFACE YOU CAN SEE PRETTY
MUCH IN THE PICTURE ON THE
SCREEN IF IT’S STILL UP ON THE
SCREEN NOW, WE WILL HAVE
ALTHOUGH THEY WON’T ALWAYS BE AT
THE SAME RESOLUTION TOPOGRAPHIC
MAPS FOR NEAR ENCOUNTER
HEMISPHERES OF BOTH WORLDS.
>>OKAY.
I WANT TO THANK OUR SOCIAL MEDIA
AUDIENCE.
AND WE’RE GOING TOO ANSWER THOSE
QUESTIONS.
GET THEM IN†#ASK NASA.
WE HAVE SCIENTISTS AND WE’LL GET
TO THOSE ANSWERS AS QUICKLY AS
POSSIBLE.
BUT YOU CAN FOLLOW THE
CONVERSATION AND THOSE ANSWERS
WILL PROBABLY BE ON THAT
CONVERSATION.
THERE IS A LOT OF CONVERSATION
AT†#PLUTO FLYBY.
LET’S SEE THE HANDS.
WE’LL GO HERE AND THEN WORK OUR
WAY THIS WAY.
NAME AND AFFILIATION SIR.
>>STEVEN CLARK WITH SPACE
FLIGHT EXPLORATION.
I KNOW YOU ARE NOT PREPARED TO
MAKE A REMARK ABOUT GEYSERS OR
PLUMES.
DO YOU NEED DIRECT EVIDENCE OF
THAT OR.
>>THERE MIGHT BE SOME INDIRECT
MEANS BUT I’M AN OLD FASHIONED
GEOLOGIST.
I WASN’T QUITE BORN IN MISSOURI,
I WAS BORN IN A STATE NEAR IT.
I WANT TO SEE UNAMBIGUOUS
EVIDENCE THAT SOMETHING IS
ERUPTING UP INTO THE ATMOSPHERE.
AND IF WE SEE IT, DON’T WORRY,
WE’LL COME AND TELL YOU ABOUT
IT.
>>PLANETARY SOCIETY.
ELLEN, FOR A LONG TIME YOU HAVE
BEEN A PROPONENT OF AND BEEN
SUPPORTED BY THE AMATEUR IMAGE
PROCESSING COMMUNITY AND STARTED
RELEASING THE RAW IMAGES.
THAT WAS HALTED THIS MORNING.
I’M WONDERING IF THAT IS A PLAN
TO CONTINUE OR IF YOU ARE GOING
TO KEEP THE DATA IN ORDER FOR
THE SCIENTISTS TO INTERPRET IT
BEFORE YOU SHOW IT TO THE
PUBLIC.
>>WE INTEND TO CONTINUE TO
RELEASE ALL THE LAURIE IMAGES.
HOWEVER AS WE’RE WINDING DOWN
FROM THE PEAK OF ACTIVITY AFTER
THE INTENSITY FLYBY ACTIVITIES,
WE’RE GOING TO MOVE TO WEEKLY
RELEASES ALL IN ONE SET.
THAT IS A MANPOWER THING AND
ALSO HELPING US VET THE IMAGES
WHEN WE DON’T HAVE THE ENTIRE
SCIENCE TEAM ASSEMBLED.
THE DATA IS REALLY GOING TO
START TO FLOW IN THE FALL.
BEFORE THAT†– YOU KNOW, AFTER
THE NEXT WEEK OR SO, ONE OF THE
THINGS WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THE
AMATEUR COMMUNITY KNOWS IS THAT
WE’RE GOING TO TURN TO GETTING
THE PLASMA DATA AND OTHER LOW
SPEED DATA SETS TO THE GROUND.
THERE WILL BE A LONG GAP.
IT IS NOT BECAUSE WE’RE STOPPING
THE SHARING IT WILL BE BECAUSE
YEAR NOT SENDING IMAGES TO THE
GROUND IN AUGUST AND EARLY
SEPTEMBER.
THEN WE’LL START AGAIN AND WILL
BE ON A WEEKLY BASIS AND YOU
WILL BE ABLE TO COUNT ON IT LIKE
A CLOCK.
>>A FEW MORE QUESTIONS.
>>LEO ENRIGHT OF IRISH
TELEVISION.
WE JOURNALISTS ABSOLUTELY LOVE
FLYBYS.
MAINLY BECAUSE IT IS SCIENCE AT
THE SPEED OF JOURNALISM.
AND WHO COULD POSSIBLY NOT LIKE
THAT.
BUT IF YOU WILL FORGIVE ME, I I
DIDN’T WANT THIS WEEK TO FLY BY
WITHOUT REMARKING THAT THAT IS
THE FIRST PLANETARY FLYBY IN
AMERICAN MISSION YURIY WOODY HAS
NOT BEEN INVOLVED IN THE
IMAGING.
YURIY WAS THE FIFTH PERSON AT
THE FRONT TABLE AT EVERY FLYBY.
WE COMPLETELY RELIED UPON HIM TO
SUPPLY US WITH IMAGERY DURING
THOSE DAYS.
NASA CHOSE AN AIR FORCE FIGHTER
PILOT FROM THE DUTCH AIR FORCE
TO DEAL WITH US.
BUT HE WAS OUR LINK WITH THE
IMAGING TEAMS FOR MY ENTIRE
PROFESSIONAL CAREER.
AND I DIDN’T WANT THIS WEEK TO
PASS WITHOUT MENTIONING YURIY.
.
HE WAS A GREAT PUBLIC SERVANT, A
TERRIFIC GUY.
AND I SUPPOSE AS WE IN IRELAND
MIGHT SAY HE’S A MENSCH.
>>A TERRIFIC GUY.
EVEN AS A YOUNG STUDENT YOU
COULD CALL HIM PICK UP THE PHONE
AND YOU COULD SAY I’M SO AND SO
FROM HE WOULD MAIL YOU PICTURES
OF THE LATEST ENCOUNTERS.
IT WAS FANTASTIC.
>>FOR OUR TELEVISION ADDS,†–
AUDIENCE.
YURIY, I KNEW HIM.
THE NASA FAMILY, WE WORK VERY
HARD.
BUT WE CARE FOR EACH VERY HARD.
AND WE’VE LOST SOME PEOPLE,
YURIY AND OTHERS TO THE JET
PROPULSION LABS.
SO OUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS GO
OUT.
BUT THE NASA FAMILY CARES VERY
HARD WHEN WE LOSE FOLKS.
ERIC AND THEN ONE MORE AND CLOSE
OUT.
>>ERIC HAND WITH SCIENCE AGAIN.
I’M WONDERING IF YOU CAN TELL US
HOW THICK IT IS?
THIS MORE THAN JUST THE VENEER
YOU SUSPECT EVERYWHERE ELSE?
IS IT PURE?
THERE OTHER ICE MIXED IN?
AND HOW DID IT GET THERE?
IS THIS DEPOSITS FROM ABOVE OR
SOMETHING WELLING UP FROM
WITHIN?
AND IF YOU CAN’T SAY RIGHT NOW
HOW WOULD YOU DISTINGUISH
BETWEEN THOSE TWO?
>>I’M GOING TO SAY A COUPLE OF
WORDS ABOUT THAT.
AND WE SPECIFICALLY BROUGHT
ALONG OUR COMPOSITION TEAM LEAD
WILL GRUNDY WHO IS DOWN IN THE
AUDIENCE.
WE KNOW IT’S AT LEAST THICK
ENOUGH TO MAKE THAT ABSORPTION
BUT IT COULD BE QUITE A DEEP
LAYER.
>>YOU SAID IT EXACTLY RIGHT.
YOU ONLY NEED A CENTIMETER OR
SOMETHING TO PRODUCE AN
ABSORPTION OF THAT DEPTH.
SO WE KNOW THAT THERE IS A LID
THAT INCLUDES A LOT OF CARBON
MONOXIDE.
BUT HOW THAT INTERACTS IS
POTENTIALLY QUITE SUBTLE.
IT IS SOLUBLE IN NITROGEN ICE,
WHICH IS ALSO WIDE SPREAD AROUND
THE SURFACE AND METHANE IS ALSO
PARTIALLY SOLUBLE IN THE
MIXTURE.
SO HOW THEY COMBINE, REALLY
DON’T KNOW YET AND WE’RE GOING
TO HAVE TO DO DETAILED
MODELLING.
I LIKE THE SCENARIO OF UP
LETTING FROM BELOW BUT WE’RE NOT
CLOSE TO PROVING THAT’S WHAT’S
HAPPENING.
>>I’M WONDERING IF TELL US IF
YOU SEE ANY SIGNS OF THE
ATMOSPHERIC STRUCTURE IN OKAYAL
TAKES.
>>THE THEY TELL US WHERE ONE
ATMOSPHERIC SPECIES TAKES OUT
AND THE OTHER ABSORBS UP.
SO THAT IS NOT REALLY STRUCTURE.
BUT FROM THE SHAPE WE KNOW
ACTUALLY HOW†– ACTUALLY MIGHT
BE A LITTLE COOLER THAN WE
THOUGHT.
BUT WE’LL GET THAT LATER.
>>OKAY.
WELL, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
FOLKS WATCHING FROM ALL OVER THE
WORLD, THE PLUTO STORY IS JUST
BEGINNING.
YOU CAN FOLLOW THE CONVERSATION
ON ALL THE NASA SOCIAL MEDIA
ACCOUNTS.
AND OF COURSE GO TO
WWW.NASA.GOV/NEWHORIZONS.
I WANT TO THANK FOCUS FOR
JOINING US AND WITNESSING
HISTORY.
WE ANOTHER COMING UP FRIDAY.
THANKS FOR JOINING US.
SCIENCE NEVER SLEEPS.
[ APPLAUSE ]

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