Newly Discovered Mountain Range On Pluto Soars High Over Plains Of Ice

A newly discovered mountain range lies near the southwestern margin of Pluto’s Tombaugh Regio (Tombaugh Region), situated between bright, icy plains and dark, heavily-cratered terrain. This image was acquired by New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on July 14, 2015 from a distance of 48,000 miles (77,000 kilometers) and received on Earth on July 20. Features as small as a half-mile (1 kilometer) across are visible. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

A new mountain range on Pluto soaring above the frozen plains just west of Sputnik Planum has been discovered. This mountain range is not as high as the previously discovered mountain range in Norgay Montes (3.5 kilometers) but still soars 1-1.5 kilometers high.

"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."

In geological terms, Sputnik Planum is believed to be relatively young at perhaps less than 100 million years old. The darker regions seen in the image could possibly be much older, dating back billions of years. Moore points out that "the bright, sediment-like material appears to be filling in old craters (for example, the bright circular feature to the lower left of center)."

The New Horizons science team will release new images and science findings at 2 p.m. EDT on July 24. The briefing will be carried live on NASA TV.

For the original press release, click here.

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