For Pluto, I believe my friends will not be unfamiliar. It used to be one of the nine planets in the solar system, and it was also the farthest planet that humans can observe in the solar system. But in 2006, a major event happened in the astronomy world. Scientists redefined the selection criteria for planets. Under the new criteria, Pluto can only be regarded as a dwarf planet, so it was kicked out of the list of planets.
Since then, the solar system has changed from the original nine planets to eight planets. Although Pluto has lost its status as a planet, the attention and importance of scientists to it has not diminished in the slightest. You know, it is the first dwarf planet in the Kuiper belt at the edge of the solar system that humans can observe.
We all know that the edge of the solar system has always been a blind spot for human exploration. Due to the limitations of human technology and the fact that the solar light received by the edge of the solar system is very weak, it is very dark. And there is a very mysterious Kuiper belt around the solar system at the edge of the solar system.
The entire Kuiper belt is like a halo surrounding the inner galaxy, where there are countless asteroids and various celestial debris. And the only celestial body we can observe here on Earth through an astronomical telescope is Pluto. Researching and exploring the mysteries of Pluto will help us understand more about the Kuiper belt at the edge of the solar system.
On the day when Pluto lost its status as a planet in 2006, NASA launched the New Horizons probe. Its mission is to detect Pluto, Charon’s first Kuiper belt object. It is the fastest man-made flying object in human history. It does not take nine hours to fly over the moon orbit the earth, and it only takes 13 months to reach the gravitational zone of Jupiter.
After more than 9 years of flight, New Horizons finally reached the orbit of Pluto. At this time, a series of exploration activities of Pluto began. New Horizons first took a picture of Pluto and then sent it back to Earth. This is the first time that humans have seen Pluto’s true face. In the photos continuously transmitted back later, scientists have learned more about Pluto.
One of the photos caught the attention of scientists. In this photo, a mysterious object is moving on the surface of Pluto. And from the photos, we can clearly see the traces left behind during the movement of the object. What will this mysterious moving object on the surface of Pluto be captured by the probe? Perhaps the first thing many people think of is giant creatures.
You must know that the object that can be photographed by the probe from orbit must be very large. If it is a living thing, its volume can be very large. Is this object really a living body? When ordinary people who eat melons see such a photo, they probably think that it is a giant living body.
But as long as friends who have a certain understanding of Pluto should understand that it is basically impossible. Although we didn’t know much about Pluto in the past, we also knew that it was a very cold planet. The edge of the solar system is an area where the sunlight is very weak, and the amount of solar energy available there is very little, so every planet basically freezes celestial bodies.
This conclusion was confirmed by the exploration of New Horizons. The surface temperature of Pluto is as low as minus 229 degrees Celsius. At such an ultra-low temperature, even nitrogen with a very low freezing point will freeze. No life can survive in such an extreme environment. . Moreover, it was discovered through detection that Pluto is still a nitrogen-rich planet with a large amount of nitrogen.
But because the temperature is too low, the nitrogen on it has solidified into ice, covering the surface of Pluto. The moving object observed by the detector is likely to be just a small iceberg on the surface, and its moving orbit may also be the result of a combination of factors such as the shooting angle and the angle of the sunlight photo. It’s not a giant creature.
In fact, due to factors such as the shooting angle and the angle of the sun, the rover often photographs objects similar to life forms. For example, in a large number of Mars photos taken by the Mars rover, some of the things presented are very similar to life forms. Many people think that there are complicated life on Mars. In fact, those are just rocks on Mars.
Through the photos of Pluto sent back by the probe, we also found that Pluto has many cell-like landforms, which are densely distributed on the surface. How did such a peculiar landform come into being? Scientists have discovered that they are actually changes in nitrogen. Although the surface temperature of Pluto is as low as minus 229 degrees Celsius, there are also geological activities and geothermal energy inside Pluto.
The internal heat source continues to penetrate to the surface, and the solid nitrogen close to the heat will gain greater buoyancy, and then the whole piece will float. At this time, it will encounter the cold air on the surface, and then it will dent downwards, thus forming the special natural landform of Pluto’s surface that is uneven and resembling cells.
Of course, these are only some of our very little understanding of Pluto. If we want to truly have a comprehensive understanding of Pluto, we still need detectors that can land on the surface for long-term motion detection. The reason why our understanding of Mars is more comprehensive is that there are rover constantly moving and detecting on the surface of Mars.
Although the orbital detector is powerful and has relatively strong observation capabilities, it can only give us a general understanding of the overall geomorphology of a planet. If you want a more detailed understanding, you can only rely on the landing probe. It’s just that it’s not easy to land on Pluto, and it’s not really possible with the current technology of mankind.
There are two main reasons why it cannot be done. One is that the temperature on the surface of Pluto is very low, and there is also solid nitrogen distributed on its surface. Under such circumstances, it is difficult for our detectors to withstand this ultra-low temperature and complex environment. Another reason is the communication problem. We all know that if the detector wants to successfully land on a planet, it still needs instructions from the Earth. Manipulation.
For the Mars rover to land on Mars, various commands must be adjusted and dispatched on the Earth side to make the success rate higher. Even so, the probability of a human Mars rover landing on Mars is still only a little over 50%. And the signal from the earth to Mars, the average probability is only about 10 minutes, but if it is Pluto, the earth’s command signal to be transmitted, it takes more than 10 hours.
If it is an orbital probe, this time is not a problem, but if it is to land on Pluto, the transmission time is too long. Once there is a problem on the probe side or the landing position needs to be changed, the information on the earth side cannot be sent in time. The past, which led to the final landing failure. So with our current technology, if the probe wants to successfully land on Pluto, the success rate will be very low, so now it can only perform orbit detection.
If in the future, human science and technology go further, with stronger cryogenic detectors and more powerful cosmic communication technology, then it is inevitable that the detector will land on Pluto for detection and research. At that time, we will have a more comprehensive view of Pluto. Cognition and understanding. Maybe at that time we will make new major discoveries on Pluto, and we look forward to this day.