NASA News Conference on the New Horizons Mission

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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