Saturday, July 18, 2015

Sputnik Planum

Putting on my junior geologist hat, what it looks like here is that the smooth material in the north is different from the rougher material in the south. The smooth material looks like it shrunk and cracked, with some of the plates sliding downhill and pushing up those hills you see in the east.

Although, it looks like the polygonal cracks extend into (under) the rough material. You can see what looks like a whole plate of rough material surrounded by hills. Is the rough stuff on top of the smooth stuff?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


As I type, there is a signal flashing across the solar system at the speed of light. It was transmitted by the New Horizons spacecraft, and while it is encoded in phase shift keying, circular polarization, ones and zeros, CCSDS packets, it carries a simple message. It's just a playback of engineering data. But, it carries the following important information, translated into English:

  1. I am still functioning properly and have survived flyby
  2. I have executed the observation sequence to this point, have made this many observations and recorded this much data
  3. I am going to shut up now and get back to recording data
Alternatively there is a lack of signal flashing across the solar system at the speed of dark, carrying the unfortunate message that New Horizons did not survive flyby, and this is the best picture of Pluto we will get for decades: