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Pluto: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

5 Feb 2016, 17:49 UTC
Pluto: The Gift that Keeps on Giving
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Nitrogen Glaciers on Pluto Studded with Water-ice Hills
This image shows the inset in context next to a larger view of Pluto’s encounter hemisphere. The inset was obtained by the Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) instrument on New Horizons. The image resolution is about 1,050 feet (320 meters) per pixel. The image measures a little over 300 miles (almost 500 kilometers) long and about 210 miles (340 kilometers) wide. It was obtained at a range of approximately 9,950 miles (16,000 kilometers) from Pluto, about 12 minutes before the spacecraft’s closest approach to Pluto on July 14, 2015.Courtesy NASA/JHU-APL, SWRI/New Horizons mission.
The King of the Kuiper Belt Objects continues to deliver its secrets, data bit by data bit as the New Horizons spacecraft slowly radios its mother lode of science from the July 14th flyby back to Earth. The latest thing it’s showing us is a series of chunky hills made of water ice. They ride along on the nitrogen glaciers that cover Sputnik Planum. That’s the ice plain that we see at the “heart” of the heart-shaped Tombaugh Regio.
How Do Water Mountains Form on Pluto?
Okay, so we know that nitrogen ice dominates Pluto’s surface. So, how do ...

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