The 'Marching Mountains' Of Pluto

Recent information from the New Horizons mission to Pluto has revealed that, among other things, the landscape has floating mountains that shift their positions.


(Image of Pluto's mountains via New Horizons mission)

Pluto’s mountains may be more like icebergs in the ocean than mountains on Earth. Made of water ice, these big blocks of material are probably floating on a “sea” of nitrogen ice, Moore revealed. In some regions, these mountains are as large as the Rockies but are still buoyant enough to rise high above denser nitrogen and carbon monoxide ices. “Even the largest mountains of Pluto could simply be floating,” Moore said during his presentation.

Near the western edge of the ice field known as Sputnik Planum, giant sheets of water ice can be fractured and rearranged, producing what Moore refers to as “anarchic terrain.” Jumbled chains of angular blocks, some as much as 25 miles (40 kilometers) across and 3 miles (5 kilometers) high, form mountains that stretch chaotically near the otherwise smooth, young plain.

Fans of Golden Age science fiction great Edmond Hamilton recall the Marching Mountains from the 1940 novel Calling Captain Future, which provides a map showing the perpetual circle followed by these geographical behemoths.


(Map of Edmond Hamiltons Captain Future Pluto)

CURT nodded. He was peering toward the towering white masses that loomed up vaguely ahead. "Those are the Marching Mountains, Grag," he told the robot. "Remember them?"

Grag nodded uneasily. "Yes, I don't like them."

"My people too are afraid of them," Tharb confessed. "They have often times destroyed the towns of my tribe."

The Marching Mountains of Pluto, one of the greatest natural wonders of the System, were soon almost below them.

This particular range was a vast wall of ice, a thousand feet high, that advanced with a shifting, flowing movement over the ice-fields in a southwestward direction. The crackling, crashing roar of its progress reached their ears as a deafening cannonade.

Mountains of ice, marching! The Marching Mountains were really vast glaciers, that moved at a speed many times faster than any glacier of Earth. Around and around this frigid planet eternally, their mighty ranges moved like ponderous, walking white giants.

"Master, above us!" Grag yelled suddenly.

A dark space cruiser, with the black disk of the Legion of Doom on its bows, was diving down on them.

"Ambush!" Curt cried, his gray eyes suddenly blazing. "I might have known--"

He swept their flier aside with a lightning movement. It was too late. The guns of the cruiser blasted atomic fire.

The whole flier rocked sickeningly as its tail and rocket-tubes were blasted away. Then it plunged toward the ice hundreds of feet below, while the Legion cruiser zoomed up and away.

"We're going to fall in front of the Marching Mountains!" cried Tharb wildly. "It is certain death!"

Update: Thanks to Winchell Chung of Project Rho for the tip on this story AND a great text quote! End Update.

Via National Geographic.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/4/2015)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

MIT Wants To Catch Interstellar Visitors
'INVESTIGATE MYSTERIOUS OBJECT ENTERING NEW CALEDONIA SYSTEM FROM NORMAL SPACE' - Niven and Pournelle, 1974.

Starlink Orbital Network Like Coruscant Traffic Jam
Vermin of the Sky? Or Internet access for all?

NASA Competition To Design A Bucket Drum For Moon Mining
'There was a heap of discarded ore where Grantline had carted and dumped it...' - Ray Cummings, 1930.

Are You Ready For Commercial Space Travel?
'It wasn't a pleasant trip; it was a miserable trip on a miserable, undersized tourist rocket...' - Pohl/Kornbluth, 1952.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

I Want My 1928 Telestereo Hologram Now
'Instantly there appeared standing upon the disk, the image of a man...'

Memes Now Come From Neural Nets
'Your order said for him to be able to be able to work out twists on the gags in the file...'

Robot Dog Learns To Be Doggy From Real Dogs
'So we took pictures of Guzub making a Three Planets, and I could construct this one to do it exactly right down to the thousandth of a second.'

Unwanted Cruise Ships Huddle Together Out At Sea
'On the screen they passed in an endless, boundaryless flood of green specks...'

Sono Sion Electric Car Charges As You Drive
'It drew its power from six square yards of sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'

News Mood Filter Web Extension
'He adjusted the n, the r and b knobs, and hopefully anticipated a turn for the better...'

Fetal Lamb Rests In Artificial Womb
'... stewing warm on their cushion of peritoneum and gorged with blood-surrogate and hormones, the foetuses grew and grew...'

MIT Wants To Catch Interstellar Visitors
'INVESTIGATE MYSTERIOUS OBJECT ENTERING NEW CALEDONIA SYSTEM FROM NORMAL SPACE'

AutoX Sets Up Asia's Largest Robotaxi Center
'The robot cab seemed to know where it was going and, no doubt, the master machine from which it received its signals knew.'

E - Ink's Automatic Self Styling Color-Changing Dress
'The racks of gowns itched and quivered, their colors running into blurred pools.'

Soft Robots Use Kirigami Piezoelectric Sensor Skin
'A worthy opponent was the golem.'

Bosch Smartglasses Laser Paints AR Image On Your Retina
'Soon we'll be testing a system that projects directly on the retina of the eye.'

Maybe We Could Hibernate Until The Covid-19 Pandemic's End
'Cold-rest was a common last resort therapy for functional psychoses.'

Workplace Monitoring Hell, I Mean, Tool For Safe Distancing
'And here is the weirdest part -- I never see another employee the entire day.'

Patent Office Says AIs Cannot Be Inventors
'The real smart ones are as smart as the Turing heat is willing to let 'em get.'

Starlink Orbital Network Like Coruscant Traffic Jam
Vermin of the Sky? Or Internet access for all?

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.