NASA has released the next batch of images from New Horizons’ historic Pluto flyby — and this group is mesmerizing, especially the discovery of mountains.
According to NASA’s New Horizons’ page, the photos also included “crisp” images of Pluto’s moon Charon, complete with a canyon, as well as smaller moon Hydra’s icy surface.
“Home run!” said Alan Stern, principal investigator for New Horizons at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo. “New Horizons is returning amazing results already. The data look absolutely gorgeous, and Pluto and Charon are just mind blowing.”
The new close-up shows the mountain range near Pluto’s heart, with peaks that reach 11,000 feet. NASA estimates that the mountains formed “no more than 100 million years ago,” and are quite young in solar system years. The pictures show that about 1 percent of Pluto’s surface may still be “geologically active” today.
Charon’s close-up also showed a “youthful and varied terrain,” and it has a canyon about 4 to 6 miles deep. The moon also has about 600 miles of cliffs and troughs indicating that Charon’s crust has been fractured due to geological processes, too.
Other moons Nix, Hydra, Styx and Kerberos were captured as well, with Hydra revealing that its surface is “probably coated with water ice.” The lo-res image of the “tiny potato-shaped moon,” which is only 27 miles by 20 miles big, is pixelated in part because this image was captured when New Horizons was still 400,000 miles away.
Below, more of the latest batch from NASA: