‘Beau­ti­ful eye candy’

Frozen plains spot­ted near peaks in Pluto’s heart

Cape Breton Post - - WORLD -

Sci­en­tists have found vast frozen plains next door to Pluto’s big, rugged moun­tains of wa­ter ice.

The New Hori­zons space­craft team re­vealed close-up photos of those plains Fri­day, three days af­ter the his­toric flyby. Sci­en­tists have un­of­fi­cially named the plains af­ter Sput­nik, the world’s first man-made satel­lite.

Span­ning a cou­ple hun­dred miles, the plains are lo­cated in the bright, heart-shaped area of Pluto. Like the moun­tains un­veiled Wed­nes­day, the plains look to be a rel­a­tively young 100 mil­lion years old. Sci­en­tists spec­u­late in­ter­nal heat­ing — per­haps from vol­ca­noes or gey­sers — might be re­spon­si­ble for these youth­ful-look­ing, crater-free re­gions. The plains ap­pear to in­clude smooth hills and fields of small pits.

Prin­ci­pal sci­en­tist Alan Stern says the pic­tures com­ing from five bil­lion kilo­me­tres away are “beau­ti­ful eye candy.”

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