We already know Pluto features a surprisingly complex geology, but data returned by New Horizons still continues to stump scientists.
In a new image shared by NASA on Thursday, the agency revealed a strangely captivating scene of Pluto’s north pole, revealing an impressive amount of canyons and pits. NASA says that many of the canyons, which run vertically across the polar area, suggest the planet once experienced a period of tectonics.
The image in the gallery above provides a color-coded view of just how complex these geological features are. Here’s what NASA had to say:
The widest of the canyons (yellow) is about 45 miles (75 kilometers) wide and run close to the north pole. Roughly parallel subsidiary canyons to the east and west (in green) are approximately 6 miles (10 kilometers) wide. The degraded walls of these canyons appear to be much older than the more sharply defined canyon systems elsewhere on Pluto, perhaps because the polar canyons are older and made of weaker material.
NASA added that scientists are perplexed by Pluto’s higher elevations, which show up in the unedited image as a distinctive yellow. Apparently these higher elevations aren’t seen anywhere else on the planet, and could correspond to older methane deposits.
The image was taken at a range of approximately 21,100 miles during New Horizons’ flyby this past summer, according to NASA.
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