Hoping to capture lawmakers’ imaginations and perhaps loosen their purse strings, NASA officials said Tuesday that the new scientific information gleaned from the New Horizons mission to Pluto was “revolutionizing” what they know about the icy dwarf planet.
Among other things, the mission revealed evidence of an internal ocean, atmospheric hazes and “other wonders,” Alan Stern, principal investigator of the mission, said before the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
New measurements also reveal that Pluto is slightly larger than expected, roughly 1,473 miles in diameter, compared with Earth’s diameter of about 7,900 miles. The spacecraft and its seven instruments collected additional data, such as the height of Pluto’s mountains, the depth of its valleys and its surface temperature. Stunning pictures from the mission were circulated this month.