What is that thing on Charon? Close up photos of Pluto and moon Charon.

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Etched by canyons, crinkled by mountains, and cleansed of craters, the surface of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, are unexpectedly dynamic, according to the first high-resolution images downloaded by the New Horizons team this morning. Mission scientists describe the findings as almost paradoxical, because the two worlds had been thought too small to sustain the internal heat that drives geologic activity on Earth, and they do not experience the tidal heating that drives such activity elsewhere in the outer solar system. “The team has been abuzz,” deputy project scientist Cathy Olkin told a press briefing. “Look at this! Look at that! This is amazing!”

Pluto, a close up: Taken from an altitude of 478,000 miles kilometers, this image of a tiny fraction of Pluto?s surface reveals features as small as 400 meters across. Tall mountain ranges dot the crater-free landscape, suggesting that the surface is shockingly young—only…

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