NASA – Is Pluto’s Atmosphere Collapsing?

Four images from New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) were combined with color data from the Ralph instrument to create this sharper global view of Pluto. (The lower right edge of Pluto in this view currently lacks high-resolution color coverage.) The images, taken when the spacecraft was 280,000 miles (450,000 kilometers) away from Pluto, show features as small as 1.4 miles (2.2 kilometers). That’s twice the resolution of the single-image view captured on July 13 and revealed at the approximate time of New Horizons’ July 14 closest approach.

Four images from New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) were combined with color data from the Ralph instrument to create this sharper global view of Pluto. (The lower right edge of Pluto in this view currently lacks high-resolution color coverage.) The images, taken when the spacecraft was 280,000 miles (450,000 kilometers) away from Pluto, show features as small as 1.4 miles (2.2 kilometers). That’s twice the resolution of the single-image view captured on July 13 and revealed at the approximate time of New Horizons’ July 14 closest approach. Image – NASA

Five years ago NASA were baffled with Earth’s shrinking atmosphere

Large changes in the sun’s energy output may drive unexpectedly dramatic fluctuations in Earth’s outer atmosphere.

Results of a study published today link a recent, temporary shrinking of a high atmospheric layer with a sharp drop in the sun’s ultraviolet radiation levels.

The research, led by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., and the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU), indicates that the sun’s magnetic cycle, which produces differing numbers of sunspots over an approximately 11-year cycle, may vary more than previously thought.

New Horizons has only taken a snapshot in time so we are unlikely to know if the current low solar activity may be linked to Pluto’s shrunken atmosphere [my emphasis].

From previous observations, scientists assumed the pressure on Pluto’s surface would be about 15 microbars, but it turned out they were wrong, by quite a bit.

This REX occultation data says that the pressure on Pluto’s surface is just 7 microbars. It could be that the atmosphere is kind of collapsing, that the atmosphere, the gases that make up that atmosphere, are freezing and falling to the surface. If this is what’s happening, it’s possible that the collapse of Pluto’s atmosphere is imminent, or at least that most of the gas in the atmosphere will freeze and fall to the surface.

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Nepal Earthquake – Similar pattern seen at start of Little Ice Age | the WeatherAction News Blog

Above the Nepal earthquake captured as it happened. It is all the more poignant when you see how every day normal life was happening only to be snatched away in an instant..

The BBC reported on a previous time when the same fault ruptured –

  • Saturday’s magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck to the north-west of Kathmandu
  • The last time the fault ruptured at this location was in back in 1344
  • It was preceded in 1255 by a big event to the east of Kathmandu
  • The last rupture there was in 1934, hinting strain might accumulate westward
  • 2015’s quake follows the pattern with a gap between events of 80 years or so
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When Bollinger and his colleagues saw this historic pattern of events, they became greatly concerned.

“We could see that both Kathmandu and Pokhara would now be particularly exposed to earthquakes rupturing the main fault, where it likely last did in 1344, between the two cities,” explains Paul Tapponnier, from the Earth Observatory of Singapore, who was working with Bollinger.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-32472310

The Telegraph have also covered the story here

1934 Bihar earthquake. Image credit: www.thecosmosphere.com

1934 Bihar earthquake. Image credit: http://www.thecosmosphere.com

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