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Cool image time! Even as they download new images for a press conference on Friday, the New Horizons’ science team has released a new close-up of Tombaugh Regio, showing both a new mountain range within it as well as its sharply defined western contact with the dark whale feature, which now appears to be heavily cratered and old.
“There is a pronounced difference in texture between the younger, frozen plains to the east and the dark, heavily-cratered terrain to the west,” said Jeff Moore, leader of the New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging Team (GGI) at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. “There’s a complex interaction going on between the bright and the dark materials that we’re still trying to understand.” While Sputnik Planum is believed to be relatively young in geological terms – perhaps less than 100 million years old — the darker region probably dates back billions of years. Moore notes that the bright, sediment-like material appears to be filling in old craters (for example, the bright circular feature to the lower left of center).
Make sure you click through to see the full resolution image. It is quite astonishing. They have also released a new image each of two of Pluto’s moons.