Pluto probe spots ice islands in a nitrogen sea

Image: Pluto's icy hills

This image focuses in on a part of Pluto’s heart-shaped region where hills of water ice appear to be floating on top of a nitrogen glacier. Challenger Colles, toward the top of the inset photo, is a wide cluster of water-ice hills. (Credit: NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI)

There’s plenty of evidence that Pluto is a frozen water world, with mountains of ice that rise more than 10,000 feet in height, but here’s something even weirder: Huge chunks of frozen H2O appear to be floating in a sea of frozen nitrogen, like icebergs in Earth’s polar regions.

Those are among the findings reported on Feb. 4 in this week’s update from NASA’s New Horizons mission. The piano-sized New Horizons spacecraft collected gigabytes’ worth of observations last year during its July 14 flyby, and it’s been sending back data ever since then.

Get the full story on GeekWire.


About Alan Boyle

Award-winning science writer, creator of Cosmic Log, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.
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