07/17/2015

New Horizons Reveals Unexpected Worlds

17:19 minutes

This new image of an area on Pluto's largest moon Charon has a captivating feature—a depression with a peak in the middle, shown here in the upper left corner of the inset. Photo by NASA-JHUAPL-SwRI
This new image of an area on Pluto’s largest moon Charon has a captivating feature—a depression with a peak in the middle, shown here in the upper left corner of the inset. Photo by NASA-JHUAPL-SwRI

Mountains of ice, some 11,000 feet tall. A gorge five times deeper than the Grand Canyon. And active, young surfaces, barely pockmarked by craters. Those are just a few of the surprising features that the New Horizons spacecraft beamed back this week, after its flyby of Pluto and its moons. Cathy Olkin, deputy project scientist for the mission, says Pluto and Charon are far different than she imagined, revealing an unexpected, puzzling variety of terrains. “Welcome to the outer solar system,” she says. Olkin joins Jim Green, NASA’s head of planetary science, to discuss the latest findings.

Segment Guests

Jim Green

Jim Green is a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and a deputy project scientist for NASA’s New Horizons Mission.

Cathy Olkin

Cathy Olkin is Deputy Principal Investigator for NASA’s Lucy Mission and a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

Meet the Producer

About Christopher Intagliata

Christopher Intagliata is Science Friday’s senior producer. He once served as a prop in an optical illusion and speaks passable Ira Flatowese.

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