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NASA Discovers Icy Plains In The Center Of Pluto’s Frozen ‘Heart’

17 Jul 2015, 23:16 UTC
NASA Discovers Icy Plains In The Center Of Pluto’s Frozen ‘Heart’
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NASA discovers that vast frozen plains lie in the center of Pluto’s ‘heart.’

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has discovered a vast icy plains that appears to be no more than 100 million years old in the most recent image of Pluto’s surface released on Friday. The region lies within the center of Pluto’s heart-shaped feature, informally known as “Tombaugh Regio” — meaning Tombaugh Region — after Clyde Tomaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930.

“This terrain is not easy to explain,” Jeff Moore, leader of the New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging Team (GGI) said. “The discovery of vast, craterless, very young plains on Pluto exceeds all pre-flyby expectations.”

The region is thought to be no more than 100 million years old due to the lack of impact craters seen. Scientists say this could indicate that the region is still being formed by geological processes.

Dark streaks a few miles long seen in the region, which appear to be aligned in the same direction, may have been produced by winds blowing across Pluto’s frozen surface scientists say.

The region has been informally named “Sputnik Planum” — meaning Sputnik Plain — after the Earth’s first artificial satellite. Sputnik Planum is located just ...

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