New Horizons Finds That Pluto Has a Tail

Recent new horizons images uncover never before seen features

Recent news about Pluto discoveries lit up the space science world as the New Horizons spacecraft approached Pluto. All the anticipation for the spacecraft reaching the dwarf planet reached a fever pitch until the first pictures taken by the New Horizons probe began to be transmitted. The new pictures were higher resolution than previous ones, so they allowed new features to be uncovered about what had once been the 9th planet in our solar system.

What’s new about pluto

The newer, higher quality pictures are to thank for recent discoveries. Everyone expected the newer technology to pay dividends, and it did. The announcement came from NASA yesterday in a press release.

The press release describes this strange find as actually being made of up ionized gas trailing thousands of miles behind Pluto, like a tail. But the exception was that this wasn’t any random trail. This trial was the atmosphere of Pluto being blown away by solar wind.
All the atmosphere that was being blown away escaped as well, and this isn’t a unique occurrence. Other instances of this atmosphere doing such a thing is seen on Venus and Mars.

A planet’s atmosphere blowing away isn’t something you see every day

Because of its small size in comparison to Earth, the atmosphere of the dwarf planet escaping gravitational pull is not surprising. Data from the Solar Wind Around Pluto (SWAP) instrument tells scientists that the find was witnessed due to a slump of nitrogen ions. This is the tail, as mentioned before, that forms plasma. As of yet, the spacecraft hasn’t sent any information giving some indication of how far this tail trails.

NASA scientists await more information from the spacecraft to arrive. The cool thing is that the spacecraft actually got to fly through the trail in its orbit around Pluto. Not many can say they have flown through the gas tail of a distant mass in space.

Other information is pending as well that may have answers to how the tail was formed and the shape of it. But all hinges on the New Horizons sending more data back.


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