NASA have just released the first High Resolution Images from the surface of Pluto that were scanned recently by New Horizon’s space craft which completed a journey of 9 billion miles to give the best quality images of the dwarf planet. It is said that more like these images will be released by Friday.
John Spencer, a New Horizons science team member, said that the team has yet to find an impact crater in any of the scans, which means the surface of Pluto is very young relative to the rest of the solar system. He also said that the mountains seen in the image stretch to over about 3,350 meters high, and are likely made water-ice bedrock.
The mountains probably formed less than 100 million years ago, according to NASA. They might also still be growing. They might also be visible in the images taken from the backside of Pluto, when the dwarf planet is back-lit by the Sun.
Alan Stern, New Horizons’ principal investigator, agreed:
“The one thing we can say for sure is that tidal energy is not at play here, [Now] we have to get a little more clever.”
A new close-up image of an equatorial region near the base of Pluto’s bright heart-shaped feature shows a mountain range with peaks jutting as high as 11,000 feet (3,500 meters) above the surface of the icy body. The team also announced that the “heart” feature of Pluto will now be known as the Tombaugh Regio, after Clyde Tombaugh, the discoverer of Pluto.
“This is one of the youngest surfaces we’ve ever seen in the solar system,”
GGI deputy team leader John Spencer at SwRI, said:
“This may cause us to rethink what powers geological activity on many other icy worlds,”
New Horizons also observed the smaller members of the Pluto system, which includes four other moons: Nix, Hydra, Styx and Kerberos. A new sneak-peak image of Hydra is the first to reveal its apparent irregular shape and its size, estimated to be about 27 by 20 miles (43 by 33 kilometers).
Collected And Prepared By Roxtar Amir