What are these cracks on Pluto?

It’s fun, perusing the raw data from the LORRI instrument aboard New Horizons.  You get to see stuff that maybe you didn’t notice in the bigger-picture mosaics they release from time to time.  Like this.  It’s a dark region off to one side of the “heart” of Pluto, and its riddled with canyons that look like the whole surface cracked.  Mercury has genuine cracks, caused by contraction as the dead little world slowly cools, but Pluto is so geologically active that that doesn’t seem likely here.  Or is it?  Maybe cracking could be regional, rather than global.  (Might explain why Dione has those vast canyons on its leading edge.)  But some of these look sort of softened, as if the substrate is still somewhat flexible and *squishy* on a geologic scale.  And there are canyons crossing canyons.  So what caused these?

The cool part is not knowing.  😉  It means we get to find out!



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