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Journal Articles Icarus Year : 2017

Geological mapping of Sputnik Planitia on Pluto

Kelsi N. Singer
  • Function : Author
Orkan M. Umurhan
  • Function : Author
S. Alan Stern
Kimberly Ennico
Harold A. Weaver
  • Function : Author
Andrew F. Cheng
  • Function : Author
Alissa M. Earle
  • Function : Author
Stuart J. Robbins
  • Function : Author


The geology and stratigraphy of the feature on Pluto informally named Sputnik Planitia is documented through geologic mapping at 1:2,000,000 scale. All units that have been mapped are presently being affected to some degree by the action of flowing N2 ice. The N2 ice plains of Sputnik Planitia display no impact craters, and are undergoing constant resurfacing via convection, glacial flow and sublimation. Condensation of atmospheric N2 onto the surface to form a bright mantle has occurred across broad swathes of Sputnik Planitia, and appears to be partly controlled by Pluto's obliquity cycles. The action of N2 ice has been instrumental in affecting uplands terrain surrounding Sputnik Planitia, and has played a key role in the disruption of Sputnik Planitia's western margin to form chains of blocky mountain ranges, as well in the extensive erosion by glacial flow of the uplands to the east of Sputnik Planitia.

Dates and versions

insu-03692516 , version 1 (09-06-2022)



Oliver L. White, Jeffrey M. Moore, William B. Mckinnon, John R. Spencer, Alan D. Howard, et al.. Geological mapping of Sputnik Planitia on Pluto. Icarus, 2017, 287, pp.261-286. ⟨10.1016/j.icarus.2017.01.011⟩. ⟨insu-03692516⟩
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