A new image from the New Horizons spacecraft’s Pluto flyby has revealed a second mountain range within a heart-shaped region on the dwarf planet’s surface.
The range lies near the southwestern margin of the heart-shaped area dubbed “Tombaugh Regio” (Tombaugh Region) by scientists. Last week NASA released its first closeup image of an area near Pluto’s equator, which contains a range of mountains rising as high as 11,000 feet.
The latest Pluto image, which was released on Tuesday, shows another range, estimated to be about one-half mile to one mile high, about the same height as the Appalachian Mountains.
“Pluto’s icy mountains have company,” explained NASA, in a statement. “NASA’s New Horizons mission has discovered a new, apparently less lofty mountain range on the lower-left edge of Pluto’s best known feature, the bright, heart-shaped region named Tombaugh Regio.”
The new range is just west of the region within Pluto’s heart called Sputnik Planum (Sputnik Plain), NASA said.
The agency also released a new image of Pluto’s moons Nix and Hydra. NASA noted that New Horizons’ first color image of Nix, in which colors have been enhanced, reveals an intriguing region, which is estimated to be 26 miles long and 22 miles wide.
“Additional compositional data has already been taken of Nix, but is not yet downlinked. It will tell us why this region is redder than its surroundings,” said mission scientist Carly Howett of the Southwest Research Institute, in a statement. “This observation is so tantalizing, I’m finding it hard to be patient for more Nix data to be downlinked,” she added.
Members of NASA’s New Horizons team will be holding a science update on July 24 to reveal new images and discuss the latest results from the spacecraft’s historic July 14 flyby.