Jagged ice mountains on Pluto, huge canyons on Charon — this is a very active system

The Pluto system is clearly a very active system: Pluto is not merely unusually clear of craters, it also has clearly young mountains over 11,000 feet high still in the process of growing.  Based on their structure, mission scientists think they’re made primarily of water ice — and they definitely do look different from any other mountains seen anywhere else in the solar system.

nh-pluto-surface-scale

And then there’s Charon.  This full-disk image highlights the big moon’s similarly youthful surface, with an intriguingly vast network of cliffs and a deep canyon off by the limb at top right that’s so deep it could swallow the mountains in the picture above:

nh-charon

The initial image set also includes this tantalizing but extremely vague image of Hydra, one of Pluto’s lesser moons.  It reveals practically nothing apart from the fact that Hydra is clearly not round.

nh-hydra_1_0

Now we get to look forward to seeing more of this over the next year or so!  As one of the mission team pointed out, it’s like Christmas every day, as you get to unwrap new data all the time!

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