Nasa's principal investigator for the space agency's New Horizons mission has said that it is going to make an "amazing" announcement regarding Pluto on 8 October. Dr Alan Stern was speaking at the University of Alberta, Canada, when he told the audience that Nasa is going to release some exciting news.
"Nasa won't let me tell you what we're going to tell you [on 8 October]. It's amazing," said Stern. Nasa has yet to set a press conference for the announcement, like it did when it had discovered flowing water on Mars, however. Stern was presenting the latest findings from the Pluto mission, when he added: "This world is alive. It has weather, it has hazes in the atmosphere, active geology – 2015 will be a year in textbooks forever."
It's been a good year already for Nasa, which as well as breaking the news about finding flowing water on the Red Planet, also announced the discovery of dwarf planet Kepler 452b – otherwise known as Earth 2.0 because of its similarities to home.
In September, Nasa released images from its New Horizons mission. The images show Pluto's global atmospheric haze has far more layers than scientists previously realised, with the haze creating a twilight effect softly illuminating the night-side terrain at sunset. "This bonus twilight view is a wonderful gift that Pluto has handed to us," said John Spencer, deputy leader of the Geology, Geophysics and Imaging Team (GGI). "Now we can study geology in terrain that we never expected to see."
The pictures also show the oldest and most heavily cratered terrain next to the youngest icy plains, raising many possibilities about the dwarf planet. William B McKinnon, also GGI deputy lead, said: "Seeing dunes on Pluto – if that is what they are – would be completely wild, because Pluto's atmosphere today is so thin. Either Pluto had a thicker atmosphere in the past, or some process we haven't figured out is at work. It's a head-scratcher."
Update: Nasa has told IBTimes UK that there will not be an 'amazing' announcement.