Pluto and Charon, Adorning an Icosidodecahedron

 

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Images obtained by NASA’s New Horizons space probe. Geometrical rendering done using Stella 4d, available at http://www.software3d.com/Stella.php.

Initial Transmission After Arrival, from the First Automated Spacecraft from the Pluto/Charon System, “Wizonn Shore,” to Visit the Mysterious Planet Earth, Surrounded by Its Atmosphere of High-Pressure Nitrogen (and Toxic Oxygen) High-Temperature Vapors

[Source: This is the lead story in the most recent issue of The Charon Space Central Daily, published electronically every 6th or 7th Earth day, since Pluto’s day lasts almost as long as our week. I simply translated it into English, after I intercepted the transmission, so that at least some other humans can read it.]

Earth is the most massive of the inner rocky planets, with the mass of 459 plutos, according to the most accurate measurements relayed so far by Wizonn Shore, in recent days, on the robotic spacecraft’s approach to the giant rocky world. Earth’s radius, 5.5 times that of Pluto, gives it a volume of about 160 plutos, so it is almost three times as dense as either of our homeworlds. Its surface area, as the largest rocky body in the solar system, is almost 23 times greater than that of Pluto and Charon combined. However, as this chart shows, much of Earth’s surface is covered with deadly oceans, utterly useless for any form of life as it evolved in the Pluto / Charon system. These enormous accumulations of liquid dihydrogen monoxide are the largest yet discovered anywhere, so incredibly hot (averaging ~300 kelvins) that, at Earth’s high atmospheric pressure, that compound exists as a freely-flowing, highly-reactive liquid covering over 70% of earth’s surface, except for rare areas where it is frozen, mostly near the poles and/or at the top of Earth’s taller mountains. Unfortunately, 300 kelvins is about seven times what natives of Pluto, Charon, or our colonies are used to, in terms of temperatures above absolute zero, so Earth is believed by most scientists to hold no potential for colonization.

It was this high temperature that prevented exploration of the inner solar system’s rocky planets — until recent developments in high-temperature adaptive technology made it possible for us to begin our exploration of the inner solar system, breaking the previously-inviolable heat-barrier at the asteroid belt, and sending our now more heat-resistant spacecraft into the previously “forbidden” region — first, Mars, which has been studied already with two separate mission; and now, finally, Earth. The exploration of Venus and Mercury by robot craft, however, at least for now, awaits further improvements in heat-resistant materials science.

 

The first surface-reconnaissance rover, similar to those used on Mars, was sent to a place with relatively low large-alien population density, as estimated by artificial light-output from different parts of the land surface, during Earth’s night. However, of course, its landing position had to be somewhere in the 29.2% of Earth’s surface not covered with oceans — for a rover landing in liquid dihydrogen monoxide would instantly be destroyed, as it sank to ever-more-crushing pressures in a hot liquid often called, on decoded Earth voice-transmissions, “water.” On both Pluto and Charon, in all laboratory experiments, this dangerous “water” has quickly rendered inert any electronic components — of anything — to which it is exposed. (Indeed, this, as well as the numerous deaths which resulted, was the reason that such “water” experiments have largely been abandoned, except by Earth-colonization advocates who have, a few admit, no good answers to the questions about Earth already being inhabited, nor how to deal with the toxic oxygen gas making up nearly one-fifth of Earth’s atmosphere.)

Despite the care given to choosing a landing-spot, this was still the first and only image sent before our spacecraft’s first rover was unexpectedly deactivated, for unknown reasons. These reasons are suspected to be related to the strange, pink alien creature dominating the image, although that is, at this point, speculation.

With data transmissions from the first landing probe ceased, Pluto/Charon’s automated spacecraft Wizonn Shore, launched from Charon eight years ago, continues to take pictures, from Earth-orbit, as fast as it can, while waiting on instructions from Charon Space Central regarding when to risk launching a second landing rover. Transmission of the images taken from orbit is a secondary priority to actually taking the pictures, as is happening now, so our news services do not yet have images of Earth of any higher resolutions than those already sent as Wizonn Shore approached Earth over the last few weeks.

While there has been some speculation in the press that the alien pictured in the one image sent from Earth might be the dominant species on Earth, that is not supported by visual transmissions decoded in the radio part of the electromagnetic spectrum, most of which depict the activity of a relatively hairless biped which compensates for its nudity, for reasons unknown, by covering itself with “clothes,” the buying and selling of which is, judging from the transmissions we have decoded so far, a major activity for Earth’s bipedal inhabitants.

It is these mysterious bipeds, and their activity as observed by our own devices, which all of Pluto, Charon, and our colonies on the outer moons are waiting to see images of, as taken by Wizonn Shore. Will it match what they beam out in all directions, using radio waves, with what seems to be careless abandon — or will the “as seen on TV” version of Earth prove to be an elaborate deception, on the part of Earth’s inhabitants?

Of course, the computers processing these images do not care about our collective frustration, and so we continue to wait. Might “clothes” be adopted only at a certain age by Earth’s dominant bipeds? Might that single, naked, pink-skinned alien, photographed by our short-lived landing-rover, simply be an immature form of the same species? At this time, those questions, and more, remain open.

The First High-Resolution Images from Pluto Have Arrived, and They Bring a Major Mystery: Where Are the Impact Craters?

pluto-observations-through-the-years

As new pics from the Pluto/Charon system become available, you can’t beat the image gallery at the New Horizons portion of NASA’s website to keep up with them, which is where I found this .gif file showing images of Pluto itself throughout the years. It culminates in the latest, and most detailed, image of any part of Pluto — a small portion of its surface. To see more of the latest pics, as they are released, I refer you to that web-page. NASA plans to keep it updated with the latest from the Pluto/Charon system, for months to come, as new images are transmitted, received, and processed.

The big surprise today is not the “heart of Pluto” that’s gotten so much press this week, but something newly discovered (and completely unexpected) with the latest small batch of new pics: on both Pluto and Charon, they can’t find a single impact crater. Not one. And that is just flat-out weird. Here, see for yourself (same image source): unexpected ice mountains, check; unexpectedly-smooth plains, check; craters — hey, the craters are missing!

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According to everything we know, impact craters should be there. The ice mountains and numerous plains are mysteries, also, but it is the lack of craters which really has scientists puzzled this morning. Everyone expected to see lots of impact craters, myself included. Small worlds, so far from the sun, should have frozen internally long ago, based on present models, making them geologically dead, and therefore unable to “erase” impact craters (seen on dozens of other planets, dwarf planets, satellites, and asteroids) with surface-altering geological activity. This mass-erasure-of-craters happens on a only a few other solid bodies in the solar system, such as Earth, and Jupiter’s moon Io — both larger, and much warmer, than anything in the Pluto/Charon system. Some scientists are already going public with conjectures for the energy source needed to keep Pluto and Charon crater-free. However, I have yet to read any such conjecture which I find convincing, which is why I am not including them in this post. (Such guesswork is easy to find, though, here, among other places.)

On the other hand, the scientific community has had very little time, yet, to explain this new puzzle; there might be a convincing explanation out there by this time next week — or this could persist, as one of many mysteries in astronomy, for decades. At this point, it is too early to even venture a guess regarding when, if ever, this mystery will be solved.

Stephen Hawking, on the Reasons We Explore

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The source for this screenshot-image, and quote, is the congratulatory message from Stephen Hawking to the entire New Horizons team at NASA, regarding the historic achievement of the fly-by through the Pluto/Charon system, earlier today. All I did was take the screenshot, and then add the quote to it.

Here is the entire message, as NASA posted it to YouTube.