Video: Pluto Has Mountains (Not As Tall As Colorado’s, Though)

July 15, 2015

We can't get enough of this New Horizons probe to Pluto, which started phoning home some amazing images from its Tuesday flyby. And we really perked up when we heard NASA had discovered a mountain range on the far-off dwarf planet. Naturally, our first thought was, well, how big are the mountains?

Turns out they're a fine, if modest range topping out at about 11,000 feet. Not to brag, but, well, not exactly Fourteener material. In fact, not as tall as 11,900-foot Loveland Pass. But they are cool, in very sense of the word:

The mountains are probably composed of Pluto’s water-ice “bedrock.”

Although methane and nitrogen ice covers much of the surface of Pluto, these materials are not strong enough to build the mountains. Instead, a stiffer material, most likely water-ice, created the peaks. “At Pluto’s temperatures, water-ice behaves more like rock,” said deputy GGI lead Bill McKinnon of Washington University, St. Louis.

Here's some tweets from the NASA feed, including a clip from the moment the phone rang from Pluto, and how they made they the connection:

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