‘Beautiful eye candy’
Frozen plains spotted near peaks in Pluto’s heart
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.”