The NASA space agency routinely takes amazing pictures of our universe, leaving space enthusiasts mesmerized. On Sunday, NASA shared a stunning photo on Instagram taken by the New Horizons spacecraft that shows a heart-shaped ice block on the surface of Pluto. The heart-shaped area is informally known as Tombaugh Regio and is made of nitrogen and methane.
The image reads: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Our New Horizons spacecraft captured this heart-shaped glacier. It is located on the surface of Pluto, which also features mountains, cliffs, valleys, craters and plains, and is thought to be made of methane and nitrogen ice.
See the picture here:
The image has been described as “Pluto’s surface is characterized by cracks and craters in brown tones. The partially visible core appears in the lower right of the small world surrounded by black space.
New Horizons was launched in January 2006 and reached Pluto in July 2015, flying within 7,800 miles of its surface, becoming the first probe to fly near Pluto and its moons. The distant spacecraft also visited a distant Kuiper belt object Ultima Thule (2014 MU69) in January 2019.
Instagram users liked the photo and shared a variety of comments. One user wrote, “Wouahh what a great capture, thanks to the New Horizon spacecraft.” Another commented, “For me, Pluto will always be a planet.”
A third said: Why is Pluto not a plane? A fourth said: ‘Being apart doesn’t mean you’re not part of the family. ”
Pluto was once considered the ninth planet in the solar system, however, in 2006 it was downgraded and reclassified as a dwarf planet. International Astronomical Union The IAU downgraded Pluto to a dwarf planet because it did not meet the three criteria the IAU uses to define a full-size planet.
Pluto is just over 1,400 miles (2,250 km) across, or about half the width of the United States or two-thirds the width of the Moon. With an average temperature of -387 F (-232 C) – Pluto’s surface is covered in ice made of water, methane, and nitrogen and is thought to have a rocky core and possibly a deep ocean.
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