Images acquired by Jacob Aron at New Scientist have revealed what appear to be clouds on Pluto. If confirmed, the findings would be hugely significant, suggesting there is a large amount of atmospheric activity taking place on the dwarf planet.
The pictures from New Horizons, which have not been publicly released yet, appear to show clumps in the haze of Pluto that may be individual clouds. In emails seen by New Scientist, researchers involved with the mission picked out a few features in particular.
At the moment, we do not know what might be causing the clouds, or what they might be made of. However, an upcoming paper from the researchers in the journal Science may reveal further details.
The labelled image acquired by New Scientist appears to show individual clouds on Pluto. NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
“The emails do not discuss what the clouds might be made of,” said New Scientist. “They are likely to be of similar composition to the general atmosphere, which according to the team’s upcoming Science paper, consists of nitrogen, with traces of methane, acetylene, ethylene and ethane.”
Until then, we’ll just have to gawp at the latest awesome bit of science to come from this amazing world.