Pluto really is a planet (probably): The meaning of the first close-up photos

ideas.ted.com

Alan Stern is excited. The planetary scientist has been working on sending a probe to Pluto since 1989. During that time, he’s seen his planet downgraded to “dwarf planet” status (in 2006) … but now he’s optimistic that Pluto will be reinstated with full planetary honors. Why? Because just-released close-up pictures from the New Horizons probe say to him beyond doubt that Pluto is a planet — and a super complex one at that. “It may be among the most complicated planets in the solar system,” says Stern, who grabbed a few minutes on the phone on Monday to share his delirious excitement at the new images. “Its geology and the distribution of snows on its surface are telling us about a very complex history.” Enjoy some of the close-up images of Pluto that are causing the astronomical excitement.

What do these photos show or teach us about Pluto? 

That it may be among the most complicated planets in the…

View original post 458 more words