NASA craft discovers heart shape on Pluto as flyby nears
MIAMI, July 12
There’s a near-perfect heart shape on Pluto’s rusty red surface. The dwarf planet is dotted with bright points which may be ice caps, and a mysterious dark shape nicknamed “The Whale.”
Scientists are seeing all this for the first time as a piano-sized NASA spacecraft, called New Horizons, hurtles towards the distant celestial body on its way towards a historic flyby on July 14.” We’re at the ‘man in the moon’ stage of viewing Pluto,” said John Spencer of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “It’s easy to imagine you’re seeing familiar shapes in this bizarre collection of light and dark features. However, it’s too early to know what these features really are.”
But scientists expect those mysteries to be solved in coming days as the spacecraft closes in on Pluto, once considered the farthest planet in the solar system before it was reclassified as a dwarf planet in 2006.