In its final farewell to Pluto, New Horizons … [sent] an image of exotic ice across the dwarf planet’s surface, revealing signs of recent geologic activity — something scientists hoped to find but didn’t expect.
‘We’ve only seen surfaces like this on active worlds like Earth and Mars,’ said mission co-investigator John Spencer of SwRI. ‘I’m really smiling.’
The close-up images of ice show fascinating detail within the Texas-sized plain — named Sputnik Planum — that lies within the western half of Pluto’s heart-shaped region, known as Tombaugh Regio.
There, a sheet of ice clearly appears to have flowes, and may still be flowing, in a manner similar to glaciers on Earth. …
‘At Pluto’s temperatures of minus-390 degrees Fahrenheit, these ices can flow like a glacier,’ said Bill McKinnon, of Washington University in St. Louis, deputy leader of the New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging team.
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