TOPOGRAPHIC MAPPING OF PLUTO AND CHARON USING NEW HORIZONS DATA
Keywords: Pluto, Charon, Topographic Mapping, Spatial Databases
Abstract. New Horizons 2015 flyby of the Pluto system has resulted in high-resolution topographic maps of Pluto and Charon, the most distant objects so mapped. DEM’s over ~30% of each object were produced at 100-300 m vertical and 300-800 m spatial resolutions, in hemispheric maps and high-resolution linear mosaics. Both objects reveal more relief than was observed at Triton. The dominant 800-km wide informally named Sputnik Planum bright ice deposit on Pluto lies in a broad depression 3 km deep, flanked by dispersed mountains 3-5 km high. Impact craters reveal a wide variety of preservation states from pristine to eroded, and long fractures are several km deep with throw of 0-2 km. Topography of this magnitude suggests the icy shell of Pluto is relatively cold and rigid. Charon has global relief of at least 10 km, including ridges of 2-3 km and troughs of 3-5 km of relief. Impact craters are up to 6 km deep. Vulcan Planum consists of rolling plains and forms a topographic moat along its edge, suggesting viscous flow.