New Pluto photos reveal north pole's frozen canyons

By Brooks Hays  |  Feb. 26, 2016 at 5:35 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- New images of Pluto's north pole showcase the dwarf planet's unusual canyons. The images were captured by the Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera, or MVIC, on the New Horizons probe.

The series of pits and plateaus weaves across a polar region known as Lowell Regio. Most of the canyons are roughly six miles wide. The widest canyon stretches ten miles across.

Compared to other canyons systems found on Pluto, those within Lowell Regio are shallower and boast less dramatic walls.

The most intriguing aspect of the region is its colors.

The lower elevations boast cool blue hues, while the higher hills feature pale yellows. Similar colors are seen anywhere else on Pluto's surface.

Researchers aren't sure exactly what explains the odd color scheme, but NASA scientists suggest it likely has something to do with the region's geochemical composition. Lowell Regio is richer in methane deposits and mostly devoid of nitrogen ice.

"One possibility is that the yellow terrains may correspond to older methane deposits that have been more processed by solar radiation than the bluer terrain," Will Grundy, a lead scientist on the New Horizon's surface composition team, said in a press release.

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