The complexity of some new images of Pluto taken from NASA’s New Horizon spacecraft has left scientists deeply puzzled. They are surprised to see that the dwarf planet is home to such huge complexity and has a mystifying range of surface features.
Here, it must be mentioned that earlier images of Pluto also indicated that the global atmospheric haze of the planet consists of more layers that what scientists used to believe.
The new images have been captured from the New Horizons spacecraft of NASA, which is currently 69 million km away from Pluto. They revealed a number of new surface features of the planet; these include nitrogen ice flows that appear to ooze out from the mountainous regions and run into the plains, networks of valleys which have possibly been curved out of materials flowing over the planet’s surface, dunes etc.
Alan Stern, the principal investigator of the New Horizons, said that these newly captured images of Pluto are showcasing diverse landforms and complex procedures that can compete with anything we have witnessed in our solar system to date. Stern works at Boulder, Colorado’s Southwest Research Institute.
The NASA spacecraft has initiated its year-long download of freshly gathered data and newly captured images. These images are showing large regions with chaotically arranged mountains, which resemble the terrain of Europa, the icy moon of Jupiter.
Jeff Moore of the Ames Research Center, California said that Pluto’s surface is as complex as that of the Red Planet Mars.
He added that the chaotically arranged mountains might turn out to be massive blocks formed of hard water ice that are floating on a vast, softer, and denser frozen Nitrogen deposit on the Sputnik Planum.
The new images of Pluto have also shown the most severely cratered or the oldest terrain spotted on Pluto by the New Horizons. This newly identified terrain is situated right beside the icy plains, which are the most crater-free regions and thus the youngest terrains on the planet. Scientists are saying that it seems that the planet might also be home to an area covered with dark, windblown dunes.
Washington University’s William B. McKinnon said that the experience of seeing dunes on Pluto’s surface would be something absolutely wild as the current atmosphere of the planet is extremely thin.