New Horizons data reveal first global maps of Pluto and Charon

an image of the highest mountains on Pluto
New maps of Pluto show details of the dwarf planet’s mountains. Shown here are the highest mountains. The rise 3 to 6 kilometers (1.9 to 3.7 miles) above the smooth plains called Sputnik Planitia. The plains are made of nitrogen-ice.

The first global maps of Pluto and its moon Charon are out. And they are putting a bookend on NASA’s New Horizons mission to the dwarf planet.

“From a completionist’s point of view, they are all the good data we have, stitched together into a coherent, complete mosaic,” says Ross Beyer. He is a planetary scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. He and colleagues recently published the new maps in Icarus.

The charts focus on regions of Pluto and Charon where the New Horizons spacecraft snapped images from at least two angles. The spacecraft flew by the dwarf planet and its moon in 2015. By combining pairs of images, astronomers could see the height and depth of…

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