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New high-resolution Pluto image shows second icy mountain range


NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has snapped an image of another icy mountain range on Pluto — this one located on the southwestern edge of the dwarf planet's famous heart region. These peaks are between a half mile and one mile high and are located 68 miles northwest of Norgay Montes, the other Pluto mountain range previously photographed by New Horizons.

"There’s a complex interaction going on between the bright and the dark materials."

This new mountain range is also situated just west of the icy plains located within Pluto's heart, which have been dubbed Sputnik Planum. And on the other side of the mountains, the large dark equatorial region informally named Cthulhu begins. NASA researchers think Sputnik Planum may be relatively young at less than 100 million years old, while the dark regions date back to billions of years ago.

"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. "There’s a complex interaction going on between the bright and the dark materials that we’re still trying to understand."

This image was taken by New Horizons' Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on July 14th, when the spacecraft was 48,000 miles away from Pluto. The photo was recently downlinked to Earth on July 20th. NASA plans to unveil more New Horizons images on Friday.

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