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NASA Reveals a Giant Surprise on Pluto

Updated July 16, 2015
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NASA Reveals a Giant Surprise on Pluto

NASA released its latest photo of Pluto captured by the New Horizons spacecraft.  The new detailed image shows a big surprise on Pluto - youthful mountains near the equator.

The new image shows a very sharp and clear view of Pluto's surface, and it's covered with wide smooth areas, lumpy terrain and mountains - huge mountains.

And even more surprising is that the image showed no craters.  Scientists expected Pluto to be pelted with craters, yet not a single one showed up in the image.  The lack of craters could mean the surface of Pluto is very young, less than 100 million years old.  That's a tiny fraction when compared to the age of the solar system at around 4.5 billion years.

"I'm completely surprised," said Alan Stern, principal investigator for NASA's New Horizons spacecraft.

The first zoomed-in image of Pluto was released yesterday.  The picture was captured when New Horizons made its closest pass over of Pluto, closing in about 7,700 miles above the surface. 

Pluto's Largest Moon:  Charon
(Pluto's Largest Moon:  Charon)

The journey to Pluto was more than 3.6 billion miles and began in 2006.  Scientists around the world think it was well worth the trip.

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