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You've seen the pictures from the New Horizons spacecraft -- now hold Pluto in your hand! Our exclusive 6-inch globe combines a colorful NASA-authorized base map with informal names for 60 craters and other features on Pluto's surface.
The mosaic used for this globe consists of more than 125 images acquired by cameras aboard NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft during the seven days prior to and during its close flyby on July 14, 2015. Because Pluto rotated slowly during this period, the spacecraft recorded some areas with much higher resolution than others. Also, because Pluto’s north pole is strongly tipped toward the Sun, areas south of –30° latitude were in shadow and not seen.
Sky & Telescope collaborated with scientists Alan Stern (SWRI), Paul Schenk (LPI), Ross Beyer (SETI/NASA-Ames), and the New Horizons team to produce a base map showing Pluto's surface in approximate natural color and details as small as 1 mile (1½ km) across.
The globe comes with a freestanding, clear plastic base and an information card describing key Pluto facts and how the globe was made.
Planetary scientists didn’t expect that a cold, ice-and-rock world like Pluto would look very interesting when seen close-up. They expected to see lots of craters and maybe some interesting ice deposits on an otherwise long-dead world. But as the New Horizons spacecraft drew ever closer to Pluto in 2015, the mission scientists were all open-mouthed with excitement and disbelief. Pluto turns out to be far more geologically interesting than anyone had imagined — and its surface continues to evolve even today — despite being one of the coldest places in the solar system.
Did You Know?
In anticipation of this naming bonanza, the New Horizons team solicited the public for name ideas, and votes, within a few broad categories. The chosen names, most of which are not yet official, pay homage to underworld mythology, pioneering space missions, historic pioneers who crossed new horizons in exploration, and scientists and engineers associated with Pluto and the Kuiper Belt.