NASA New Horizons discovers new mountain range on Pluto

Pluto has another mountain range, new images from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft confirm.

The mountains are situated on the lower-left edge of the bright, heart-shaped region that NASA has named Tombaugh Regio (Tombaugh Region).

The image was acquired by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on 14 July, 2015 from a distance of 77,000 kilometres and sent back to Earth on 20 July. Features as small as 1 kilometre across are visible.

These newly discovered icy peaks are estimated to be 1,000-1,500 metres high, whereas the so-called Norgay Montes (Norgay Mountains) discovered by New Horizons earlier are around 3,500 metres.

The new mountains are about 110 kilometres northwest of Norgay Montes.

This newest image further illustrates the remarkably well-defined topography along the western edge of Tombaugh Regio.

“There is a pronounced difference in texture between the younger, frozen plains to the east and the dark, heavily-cratered terrain to the west,” said Jeff Moore, leader of the New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging Team (GGI) at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. “There’s a complex interaction going on between the bright and the dark materials that we’re still trying to understand.”

Related stories from Cosmos here.

Bill Condie

Bill Condie

Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.

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