New Horizons has spotted a second mountain range inside Tombaugh Regio, the 1,200-mile-wide (2,000 kilometers) heart-shaped feature that mission team members named after Pluto’s discoverer, Clyde Tombaugh.
This newfound range rises up to 1 mile (1.6 km) above Pluto’s frigid surface, making it comparable in height to the Appalachian Mountains of the eastern United States, NASA officials said. Tombaugh Regio’s other known mountain range, by contrast, is more similar to the tall and jagged Rocky Mountains, topping out at more than 2 miles (3.2 km) in elevation.
The newly discovered range lies just west of the ice plains known as Sputnik Planum and is 68 miles (110 km) northwest of the taller mountain range, which mission scientists are calling Norgay Montes after Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, who along with Edmund Hillary completed the first-ever ascent of Mt. Everest, in 1953. (Tombaugh Regio, Norgay Montes and other such names remain informal monikers until they’re officially approved by the International Astronomical Union.)