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New Horizons Discovers Ice Mountains On Pluto

15 Jul 2015, 21:18 UTC
New Horizons Discovers Ice Mountains On Pluto
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NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has revealed mountains of ice on Pluto’s surface.

NASA revealed the first detailed image of Pluto’s surface captured by the agency’s New Horizons spacecraft during a close flyby of the dwarf planet. The image shows a region free of impact craters with mountains of ice rising above its surface.

The surface seen in the first frame of Pluto revealed from New Horizons’ flyby of the dwarf planet shows mountains made of water ice that tower 11,000 feet high. In addition, the frame shows a complete lack of impact craters on that region of Pluto, indicating a geologically young surface.

Pluto has presumably been impacted by other objects in the solar system for billions of years, causing craters to appear on its surface. The fact that no craters are visible in this frame of Pluto, which represents less than one percent of the dwarf planet’s surface, indicates that geologic activity may have erased Pluto’s scars.

The first frame of Pluto returned from New Horizons’ closest approach to the dwarf planet shows mountains towering 11,000 feet above Pluto’s surface. Image Credit: NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI

The mountains likely formed within the last 100 million years and may ...

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