Broadcast 3559 Hotel Mars with Dr. Alan Stern

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Guests: John Batchelor, Dr. Alan Stern, Dr. David Livingston.  Topics:  The dark side of Pluto.  

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John Batchelor and I welcomed back Dr. Alan Stern to discuss the dark side of Pluto and what we know from the New Horizons spacecraft flyby of Pluto several years ago.  I suggest you read the Nature article on "Pluto's Darkside spills its secrets-including a hidden ocean."  The article was written by Shannon Hall on July 29, 2020.  Dr. Stern discusses the paper he co-authored which served as the basis for the Nature article.

Alan described the imaging discoveries for the dark side, compared the far (dark) side to the front of Pluto, talked about a possible under the surface liquid ocean, a chaotic surface with lots of strange features including very large cracks deeper than our Grand Canyon.  He also described how the dark side imaging was done and why the resolution was less than on the main side of Pluto but many many times better than what had been seen before via telescopes.  During our two segment nearly 20 minute discussion, Alan took us through the main imaging discoveries and the unique attributes of structures on the dark side being exactly opposite to a related structure on the face of Pluto that was revealed during the flyby.  We also talked about the need for future orbiter missions to Pluto, the type of instrumentation that should be on a future mission, and how to circumvent, if possible NASA budget constraints and competition for other worthy planetary missions.

Please post your comments/questions for this discussion on our blog for this show.

You can email Mr. Batchelor or Dr. Alan Stern through me at Alan can also be reached through his site at the Southwest Research institute in Boulder.





The dark side of Pluto per a new Nature Journal article

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19 Aug 2020 John Batchelor, Dr. David Livingston, Dr. Alan Stern
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