New Horizons Mission Finds Hint of Clouds on Pluto
The New Horizons spacecraft has almost completed its 16-month dispatches, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientists revealed on Tuesday.
Along with the announcement, NASA also presented the discoveries of the New Horizons, which include a photograph showing what appears to clouds found on Pluto.
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In 2015, researchers working on the New Horizons project discovered that Pluto has several layers of unconfirmed hazes about 200km in the sky. On Tuesday, American Astronomical Society principal researcher Alan Stern presented a set of evidence proving that clouds may form on Pluto at around dusk and dawn.
Despite this new discovery, Stern noted that this cannot be confirmed yet as actual clouds since they are very low-lying and extra close to the surface. This proves to be a problem for New Horizons as the craft is too distant for its instruments to verify the claims.
In a statement Stern said, "The first flyby has given us a fantastic taste of a very dynamic and changing environment, but it's not enough."
"In order to confirm we would have to go back with more instrumentation and more time," Stern added, according to The Guardian.
New Horizons is now at least a billion miles away from Pluto, as the craft is gearing up towards its new destination.
Stern said NASA is still in the early phase of talks about the possibility of sending a follow-up mission to Pluto, adding that while New Horizons is the fastest spacecraft ever to leave Earth, it still took nine and a half years for the craft to reach Pluto.