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Scientists Don't Know What To Make Of The Latest Pluto Photos

"It looks more like tree bark or dragon scales than geology."

Posted on September 24, 2015, at 8:57 p.m. ET

NASA's New Horizon's team released stunning new images of the dwarf planet Pluto today.

NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI / Via nasa.gov

This cylindrical projection is the most detailed map of Pluto ever made.

The images provide an incredible level of detail. Here's some "bizarrely textured mountains" from a region informally named the Tartarus Dorsa:

NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI / Via nasa.gov

According to NASA, the image, which captures an area about 330 miles across, shows "intricate but puzzling patterns of blue-gray ridges and reddish material in between."

Here's a super-close view of Sputnik Planum, A.K.A. Pluto's "heart":

NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI / Via nasa.gov

This view is also about 330 miles across and has enhanced color. It's got craters, it's got mountains... What more could you ask for?

How about something even closer and even weirder?!

NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI / Via nasa.gov

This view, a subset of the larger image above, is only 75 freaking miles wide! Look at the weird texture of the pockmarked plains with odd, almost trail-like divisions. Two ice mountains stand above those weird planes.

There is one obvious observation that NASA was unwilling to admit to:

NASA
NASA / Alex Kasprak / BuzzFeed

Pluto? Looks more like Pooto to me... AMIRITE?

So what's going on here?

According to NASA: The features shown in the image "resemble dunes, the older shoreline of a shrinking glacial ice lake, and fractured, angular water ice mountains with sheer cliffs." They don't have any conclusive evidence telling them what exactly is going on, but they think they could be looking at dunes composed of bright ice particles.

For comparison, here is the highest resolution image we had of Pluto before New Horizons hero-ed it up real hard:

NASA/ESA/M. Buie/SWRI / Via nasa.gov

Fuck yeah, New Horizons!

NASA / Alex Kasprak / BuzzFeed / Via nasa.gov

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