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The final frontier

"A giant surprise": New photos reveal previously unseen mountains on Pluto


nh-pluto-surface-scale NASA-JHUAPL-SwRI NASA-JHUAPL-SwRI

NASA IS TODAY releasing stunning images of Pluto, revealing never-before-seen features on the dwarf planet.

The New Horizons space probe captured one close-up photo of a region on Pluto’s equator, while passing just 478,000 miles away yesterday.

It shows what NASA called a “giant surprise” – a relatively young mountain range rising up to 11,000 feet (3,500 metres) above the surface.

Jeff Moore, from New Horizons, said:

The mountains likely formed no more than 100 million years ago — mere youngsters relative to the 4.56-billion-year age of the solar system — and may still be in the process of building.
This is one of the youngest surfaces we’ve ever seen in the solar system.

A short video posted by NASA on Twitter gives some context as to the scale of yesterday’s discovery:

Furthermore, the probe’s Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) has captured “remarkable” photos of Charon, Pluto’s largest moon.


Some geological features on the satellite are also thought to be surprisingly young, and the photo shows previously unseen detail of a dark region in the north of Charon, nicknamed “Mordor.”

The New Horizons interplanetary probe has travelled more than three billion miles, over more than nine and a half years, in order to reach the Pluto system.

Read: Take a look at Pluto as you’ve never seen it>

Read: The final approach to Pluto – We live in very exciting times for space exploration>

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