NASA: New geological map of Pluto

Pluto as mapped by NASA. (Map: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)


It has been an exciting week for anyone with an interest in planetary maps. First, the British mapping agency, the Ordnance Survey, issued paper and online maps of Mars.

And now, NASA have released a fascinating geological map of Pluto.

It covers the terrain of an area known as Sputnik Planum–a heart-shaped feature–and surrounding terrain, and covers an area of 1,290 miles from top to bottom.

The landscape of Sputnik Planum includes a vast plain of nitrogen-ice, dissected by troughs (black solid lines) and surrounded by visible fault lines (red lines) and impact craters (yellow shading).

To the west of this vast plain are mountain ranges and highlands (shown in purples and brown shading), with so-called floating hills to the east (in bright pink). The possible ice-volcano, informally named Wright Mons, is mapped in red in the southern corner of the map.

Pluto’s varied terrains as mapped by NASA. The new map will helps scientists understand the complex geological processes that have shaped Pluto's surface. (Map: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

Pluto’s varied terrains as mapped by NASA. The new map will help scientists understand the complex geological processes that have shaped Pluto’s surface. (Map: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

It might be more accurate to refer to the new map as a geomorphology map at this stage, since each of the geological units are defined by the texture and morphology of the landscape. They include descriptions such as lowland plains, mantle material, uplands, hummocks, and impact craters.

The map will now help planetary scientists to visualise the diversity of the terrain in this region of Pluto, and to figure out how the surface may have evolved over time. [wp-svg-icons icon=”mug” wrap=”i”]

 

Read more: Putting Pluto’s Geology on the Map (NASA)

 

Read more: The New Horizons mission reached Pluto in July 2015. It was the first spacecraft to fly past and investigate Pluto:
Diagrams show New Horizons encounter with Pluto
Source SPACE.com: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration.

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