The Mountains of Pluto | by Brian Koberlein



15 July 2015

Mountains on Pluto, as captured by New Horizons.
NASA/New Horizons
Mountains on Pluto, as captured by New Horizons.

There are mountains on Pluto, and that truly tells us fairly a bit in regards to the dwarf planet.

We’re simply starting to get some low decision photographs from New Horizon’s flyby of Pluto, however already the picture inform an fascinating story of the dwarf planet. For one, Pluto has jagged mountains on its floor. Many of the floor is roofed with frozen methane and nitrogen, however neither of those solids are robust sufficient to kind mountains. Nevertheless water ice is powerful sufficient at Pluto’s temperature, and that’s possible what these mountains are fabricated from. That Pluto in all probability has a “bedrock” of water ice.

One other factor you’ll discover is that these mountains usually are not simply massive, they’re additionally jagged. They haven’t been worn down, nor are they pummeled by craters. This might point out that they’re pretty younger, maybe lower than 100 million years. On the billion-year scales of the photo voltaic system, that’s fairly latest, and that will suggest Pluto is geologically energetic. That’s shocking, as a result of Pluto doesn’t expertise tidal forces, which is what typically retains the icy moons of the outer planets energetic. What may very well be driving Pluto’s exercise isn’t clear.

So already it’s clear that Pluto is stuffed with surprises.

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