Another surprise was Pluto’s primary moon, Charon, which was believed to be geologically dead.
One shot of Pluto’s equatorial region, for instance, shows what appears to be a mountain range with peaks as much as 11,000 feet high.
“This is one of the youngest surfaces we’ve ever seen in the solar system,” said Jeff Moore of the New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging Team (GGI) at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. When New Horizons was launched in 2006, Pluto was officially a planet, one of nine in our Solar System.
Other images released Wednesday showed Charon, the largest moon of Pluto – measuring about the size of Texas – as having its own belt of troughs and cliffs that extend about 600 miles (960 kilometers) across the surface, as well as a canyon that is four to six miles deep.
In the end, New Horizons proved that Pluto is not a featureless ball of ice, but a planet rich with texture and geologic activity, proving that we still have an terrible lot to learn about our own solar neighborhood.
AN ESSEX technology firm has helped Nasa capture photos of mountains on the surface of dwarf planet Pluto.
“New Horizons is returning awesome results already”. “They would stand up respectably against the Rocky Mountains”, said John Spencer, a planetary scientist working on the mission.
New Horizons conserved energy by taking naps on its 3 billion mile journey to Pluto but the spacecraft isn’t done yet and may have enough power for two more decades of exploration, according to NASA. The estimated height of those mountains suggests that the planet’s bedrock is made of water ice, which would mean that water is overwhelmingly abundant on Pluto.
OK, we all know New Horizons zoomed past Pluto, took some breathtaking pictures and then called back home to tell us everything’s fine. Although Pluto has since been downgraded to a dwarf planet, images of the icy world and its moons caused an eruption of excitement at NASA.
Other kinds of ice that are abundant on the surface of Pluto are made of nitrogen, methane and carbon monoxide.
“New Horizons has finally nailed the basic physical properties of Hydra”, Hal Weaver, New Horizons Project Scientist and LORRI science operations lead, said in a statement.
In addition to the images of Pluto’s mountains, NASA released images of the Pluto’s largest moon, Charon.