The Far Side of Pluto

nh-pluto-atmosphere-infraredThis image from the New Horizons spacecraft was our first look at Pluto’s atmosphere in infrared wavelengths. The planet is backlit with sunlight coming from above and behind. The image was captured captured just after the flyby on 14 July, 2015, while New Horizons was about 180,000 km beyond Pluto. The false color image codes wavelengths around 1.25 µm as blue, 2.5 µm as red, and intermediate wavelengths as green. North in this image is at roughly 10 o’clock.

The blue band is the result of sunlight being scattered by haze particles in the planet’s atmosphere, haze which is suspected of being photochemical smog caused by the action of sunlight on methane and other molecules. These form hydrocarbons such as acetylene and ethylene which accumulate into small particles. The µm-sized scatter sunlight giving the haze its blue tint. It looks blue in visible light too. No SUVs were detected during the flyby, so this is likely a natural process. Note that Pluto is moving further from the Sun for the next century or so (it’s orbit is highly eccentric), so it is experiencing global cooling.

The whitish patches around Pluto’s limb are from sunlight bouncing off more reflective or smoother areas on its surface.

Image Credit: NASA

I’m So Old …

… I remember when climate “scientists” were warning about a coming ice age. Over at Manhattan Contriarian Francis Menton has a post dealing with how hard it is to make climate predictions, especially about the future. (I’ll let him explain the reference).

You and I are not going to be around in 2100 to see if any of these predictions about the future have come true.  But meanwhile the climate alarm crowd obliges us with shorter term predictions to help us get some handle on how reliable they are.

Menton takes a look at some recent predictions. Read the whole thing.

Perhaps Niven and Pournelle Were Right

Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle wrote a novel called Fallen Angels. One of the premises of the plot is that the Earth in the near future is at the beginning of a new Ice Age that is made worse by laws and regulations passed by environmental Luddites.

Meanwhile, the “settled” science of global warming has received another unsettling blow. The Register reports that a study of tree rings shows that the world’s climate has been cooling since Roman times.

“We found that previous estimates of historical temperatures during the Roman era and the Middle Ages were too low,” says Professor-Doktor Jan Esper of the Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, one of the scientists leading the study. “Such findings are also significant with regard to climate policy.”

Yep. A thousand years ago, colonists grew wheat in Greenland. Their descendants are just now able to grow a few vegetables because of what they view as the recent improvement in their climate.

Have you noticed that whatever the current perceived scourge of society might be (drugs and liquor a century ago, global warming now), the Progressive Technocrats have just the solution you need–if you’ll only let them run your life for you?