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Science. 2015 Oct 16;350(6258):aad1815. doi: 10.1126/science.aad1815.

The Pluto system: Initial results from its exploration by New Horizons.

Stern SA1, Bagenal F2, Ennico K3, Gladstone GR4, Grundy WM5, McKinnon WB6, Moore JM3, Olkin CB7, Spencer JR7, Weaver HA8, Young LA7, Andert T9, Andrews J7, Banks M10, Bauer B8, Bauman J11, Barnouin OS8, Bedini P8, Beisser K8, Beyer RA3, Bhaskaran S12, Binzel RP13, Birath E7, Bird M14, Bogan DJ15, Bowman A8, Bray VJ16, Brozovic M12, Bryan C11, Buckley MR8, Buie MW7, Buratti BJ12, Bushman SS8, Calloway A8, Carcich B17, Cheng AF8, Conard S8, Conrad CA7, Cook JC7, Cruikshank DP3, Custodio OS8, Dalle Ore CM3, Deboy C8, Dischner ZJ7, Dumont P11, Earle AM13, Elliott HA4, Ercol J8, Ernst CM8, Finley T7, Flanigan SH8, Fountain G8, Freeze MJ8, Greathouse T4, Green JL18, Guo Y8, Hahn M19, Hamilton DP20, Hamilton SA8, Hanley J4, Harch A7, Hart HM8, Hersman CB8, Hill A8, Hill ME8, Hinson DP21, Holdridge ME8, Horanyi M2, Howard AD22, Howett CJ7, Jackman C11, Jacobson RA12, Jennings DE23, Kammer JA7, Kang HK8, Kaufmann DE7, Kollmann P8, Krimigis SM8, Kusnierkiewicz D8, Lauer TR24, Lee JE25, Lindstrom KL8, Linscott IR26, Lisse CM8, Lunsford AW23, Mallder VA8, Martin N7, McComas DJ4, McNutt RL Jr8, Mehoke D8, Mehoke T8, Melin ED8, Mutchler M27, Nelson D11, Nimmo F28, Nunez JI8, Ocampo A18, Owen WM12, Paetzold M19, Page B11, Parker AH7, Parker JW7, Pelletier F11, Peterson J7, Pinkine N8, Piquette M2, Porter SB7, Protopapa S20, Redfern J7, Reitsema HJ7, Reuter DC23, Roberts JH8, Robbins SJ7, Rogers G8, Rose D7, Runyon K8, Retherford KD4, Ryschkewitsch MG8, Schenk P29, Schindhelm E7, Sepan B8, Showalter MR21, Singer KN7, Soluri M30, Stanbridge D11, Steffl AJ7, Strobel DF31, Stryk T32, Summers ME33, Szalay JR2, Tapley M4, Taylor A11, Taylor H8, Throop HB10, Tsang CC7, Tyler GL26, Umurhan OM3, Verbiscer AJ34, Versteeg MH4, Vincent M7, Webbert R8, Weidner S4, Weigle GE 2nd4, White OL3, Whittenburg K8, Williams BG11, Williams K11, Williams S8, Woods WW26, Zangari AM7, Zirnstein E4.

Author information

1
Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, CO 80302, USA. astern@boulder.swri.edu.
2
Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80303, USA.
3
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Ames Research Center, Space Science Division, Moffett Field, CA 94035, USA.
4
Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, TX 28510, USA.
5
Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, USA.
6
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA.
7
Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, CO 80302, USA.
8
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD 20723, USA.
9
Universität der Bundeswehr München, Neubiberg 85577, Germany.
10
Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, AZ 85719, USA.
11
KinetX Aerospace, Tempe, AZ 85284, USA.
12
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011, USA.
13
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.
14
University of Bonn, Bonn D-53113, Germany.
15
NASA Headquarters (retired), Washington, DC 20546, USA.
16
University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.
17
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.
18
NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC 20546, USA.
19
Rheinisches Institut für Umweltforschung an der Universität zu Köln, Cologne 50931, Germany.
20
Department of Astronomy, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
21
Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA.
22
Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904, USA.
23
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA.
24
National Optical Astronomy Observatory, Tucson, AZ 26732, USA.
25
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL 35812, USA.
26
Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
27
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA.
28
University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA.
29
Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston, TX 77058, USA.
30
Michael Soluri Photography, New York, NY 10014, USA.
31
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA.
32
Roane State Community College, Jamestown, TN 38556, USA.
33
George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 22030, USA.
34
Department of Astronomy, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904, USA.

Abstract

The Pluto system was recently explored by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, making closest approach on 14 July 2015. Pluto's surface displays diverse landforms, terrain ages, albedos, colors, and composition gradients. Evidence is found for a water-ice crust, geologically young surface units, surface ice convection, wind streaks, volatile transport, and glacial flow. Pluto's atmosphere is highly extended, with trace hydrocarbons, a global haze layer, and a surface pressure near 10 microbars. Pluto's diverse surface geology and long-term activity raise fundamental questions about how small planets remain active many billions of years after formation. Pluto's large moon Charon displays tectonics and evidence for a heterogeneous crustal composition; its north pole displays puzzling dark terrain. Small satellites Hydra and Nix have higher albedos than expected.

PMID:
26472913
DOI:
10.1126/science.aad1815
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