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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Holy Pluto!

Holy Pluto!

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Saturday, July 25, 2015/Categories: natural history, photography, space science

     Nitrogen Atmosphere of Pluto in Halo Ring    (credit: New Horizons)

More photographs has been received from New Horizons showing that Pluto is far from a dull place, at least geologically. More mountains have appeared with glaciers of methane and carbon monoxide ice flowing onto a vast plain. A thick nitrogen atmosphere that surrounds the dwarf planet has been imaged.

Here are just a few of the latest New Horizons revelations about Pluto and less than 5% of the data captured during the recent fly-by has been retrieved so far.

                              Pluto in Infrared Light with Hillary Montes and Norgay Montes  (credit: New Horizons)

The newly-discovered range of mountains rises one mile above the surrounding icy plains, and are similar in height to the Appalachian Mountains in the United States. These peaks have been informally named Hillary Montes for Sir Edmund Hillary, who first summited Mount Everest with Tenzing Norgay in 1953. The Norgay Montes were observed in the first image returned from New Horizons.

                        Sputnik Planum and Nitrogen Ice Flows, Pluto  (credit: New Horizons)

According to the Pluto research team, the Sputnik Planum region "is rich in nitrogen, carbon monoxide, and methane ices. At Pluto’s temperatures of minus-390 degrees Fahrenheit, these ices can flow like a glacier would on Earth." The mountains are made of water ice that approach the hardness of diamonds at those temperatures.

Holy Pluto!


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