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NASA's New Horizons Geology Team Announces The Most Important Discovery About Pluto

Recent data sent by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft points towards something amazing on Pluto. Pluto has dominated the 47th Division of Planetary Sciences meeting. NASA’s New Horizons team presented over 50 incredible discoveries at 47th Division of Planetary Sciences meeting. According to NASA, New Horizons has found not one, but two possible icy volcanoes on the surface of Pluto’s South Pole. Just the amazing Pluto flyby everyone was expecting Pluto to be a lifeless, barren, icy world but Pluto has sure surprised everyone. One of the best achievements so far for New Horizons’ geology group is the construction of high-quality 3-D topographical maps.

After carefully studying the maps, the team spotted two very unique mountains near Pluto’s South Pole. Further examination specifies these two mountains may have been active in the very recent geological past and might be cryovolcanoes — volcanoes that actually eject ice instead of lava. These recently discovered mountains are informally named as Wright Mons and Piccard Mons. They measure up to almost 160 kilometers across. Piccard Mons is as high as 6 kilometers (3.5 miles) above the surface and is situated just beyond the day/night margin, so the only pictures we have of it are captured in twilight. Wright Mons is almost 3-5 kilometers high (2 miles), and both mountains are approximately circular in shape with a deep depression at their peak — much like the shield volcanoes we see here on Planet Earth.

These mountains are very similar to other volcanic mountains we see on the inner terrestrial planets. Though, unlike their terrestrial similarities, these volcanoes would eject a melted slurry of water ice, ammonia and methane as an alternative of molten rock. If this turned out to be completely true, scientists believe this would be one of the most important discoveries made by New Horizons because nothing like this has ever been detected in the outer Solar System.

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