New Horizons Probe Finds Pluto's Snow-Capped Mountains

PHOTO:New Horizons captured methane snow on Plutos peaks. PlayJHUAPL/SwRI/NASA
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It's been eight months since New Horizons flew past Pluto and we're still learning more about the dwarf planet from the trove of information the space probe continues to send back to Earth.

The latest view shared by NASA shows mountains in Cthulhu Regio, a dark area covering Pluto's equatorial region. Using images from New Horizons, NASA located a mountain range in southeast Cthulhu stretching 260 miles. Curiously, the mountains appear to be capped with what NASA scientists believe could be methane ice that has condensed from Pluto's atmosphere.

"That this material coats only the upper slopes of the peaks suggests methane ice may act like water in Earth's atmosphere, condensing as frost at high altitude," John Stansberry, a New Horizons science team member from Space Telescope Science Institute, said in a statement.

The mountain range is located alongside geologically diverse terrain, including craters and narrow valleys separating the peaks.

The piano-sized probe is currently speeding through the Kuiper Belt, an area at the edge of the solar system encompassing Pluto and a vast area of tiny, icy worlds. New Horizons loses about a few watts of power each year, according to NASA, but is estimated to have as much as 20 years left in its life expectancy.