“Sputnik Planum”

Flying over Pluto – Ice Mountains and Young Plains


Not far from a range of giant ice mountains on Pluto lies a vast stretch of icy plains whose surface is broken into cell-like blocks by snaking troughs, new photos by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft reveal.

The engimatic region — which the mission team is calling “Sputnik Planum,” after the satellite launched by the Soviet Union in 1957 — also features isolated hills of uncertain height, mysterious pitted terrain and dark streaks of material that may have been deposited by Plutonian winds. You can fly over Sputnik Planum in this amazing video, which NASA released today (July 17).

“I’m still having to remind myself to take deep breaths,” New Horizons team member Jeff Moore, of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, said during a news briefing today. “The landscape is just astoundingly amazing.” [New Horizons’ Pluto Flyby: Complete Coverage]

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