Another Mountain Range Discovered on Pluto
A new image from New Horizons has emerged, showing a new, smaller mountain range on the southwestern border of Pluto’s “heart” region. The image was captured during the July 14 flyby, during which time the spacecraft passed less than 8,000 miles from the planet’s surface.
This new cluster of mountains are much less lofty than the Norgay Montes, seen in the first flyby image, which rise nearly 11,000 feet (3,500 meters) from the surrounding terrain. Rather than Rocky Mountains these are more like the Appalachians, 0.5 to 1 mile (1–1.5 km) in height. But they’re not far away from the previous range, only about 68 miles to the northeast.
The mountains lie at the sharp border between the light-colored terrain of western Tombaugh Regio (the heart) and much darker terrain to the west.
“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.”
Information on these features and more will be presented during a news briefing at NASA HQ on Friday, July 24 at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 UTC). (You can tune in to that via the NASA TV link in the header bar above.)