New Horizons image of Pluto’s equator released today shows a range of youthful mountains rising as high as 11,000 feet (3,500 meters) above the surface of the icy body. Credit: NASA-JHUAPL-SwRI

New Horizons image of Pluto’s equator released today shows a range of youthful mountains rising as high as 11,000 feet (3,500 meters) above the surface of the icy body.
Credit: NASA-JHUAPL-SwRI

Images taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft during the close flyby of Pluto and its moons have begun to filter from the spacecraft back to Earth.

New close-up imagery of a region near Pluto’s equator released today reveal a giant surprise: a range of youthful mountains rising as high as 11,000 feet (3,500 meters) above the surface of the icy body. The mountains are probably composed of Pluto’s water-ice “bedrock.”

In addition, stunning new details of Pluto’s largest moon Charon are revealed by New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), taken late on July 13, 2015 from a distance of 289,000 miles (466,000 kilometers).

New details of Pluto’s largest moon Charon show it with a swath of cliffs and troughs stretches about 600 miles (1,000 kilometers). Credit: NASA-JHUAPL-SwRI

New details of Pluto’s largest moon Charon show it with a swath of cliffs and troughs stretches about 600 miles (1,000 kilometers).
Credit: NASA-JHUAPL-SwRI

A swath of cliffs and troughs stretches about 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) suggest that there is widespread fracturing of Charon’s crust, likely a result of internal processes. Also spotted, a canyon estimated to be 4 to 6 miles (7 to 9 kilometers) deep.

Mission scientists are surprised by the apparent lack of craters on Charon.

Launched in 2006, New Horizons traveled more than three billion miles over nine-and-a-half years to reach the Pluto system.

Stay tuned for a Friday briefing from NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. that promises to reveal more imagery and data from the July 14 flyby of Pluto and its moons by the New Horizons spacecraft.

This annotated view of a portion of Pluto’s Sputnik Planum (Sputnik Plain), named for Earth’s first artificial satellite, shows an array of enigmatic features.  The surface appears to be divided into irregularly shaped segments that are ringed by narrow troughs, some of which contain darker materials. Features that appear to be groups of mounds and fields of small pits are also visible.  This image was acquired by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on July 14 from a distance of 48,000 miles (77,000 kilometers). Features as small as a half-mile (1 kilometer) across are visible. The blocky appearance of some features is due to compression of the image.  Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

This annotated view of a portion of Pluto’s Sputnik Planum (Sputnik Plain), named for Earth’s first artificial satellite, shows an array of enigmatic features.
The surface appears to be divided into irregularly shaped segments that are ringed by narrow troughs, some of which contain darker materials. Features that appear to be groups of mounds and fields of small pits are also visible.
This image was acquired by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on July 14 from a distance of 48,000 miles (77,000 kilometers). Features as small as a half-mile (1 kilometer) across are visible. The blocky appearance of some features is due to compression of the image.
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

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