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New Horizons shows that Pluto's heart probably has floating mounds of water ice

Posted in Science on 5th Feb, 2016 06:38 PM by AlexMuller

Pluto is pretty much covered in water ice. We've known that for a while now. In fact, the very first image that NASA's new New Horizons spacecraft sent back during its close flyby of the dwarf planet last summer showed huge mountains suspected to be composed of water ice.


Now scientists suspect that miniature versions of those icy mountains have drifted out onto the wide, flat plains of the area known as Sputnik Planum, located in Pluto's heart-shaped region. As a NASA press release today explains:
Because water ice is less dense than nitrogen-dominated ice, scientists believe these water ice hills are floating in a sea of frozen nitrogen and move over time like icebergs in Earth’s Arctic Ocean.
Some of the icy hills form chains that stretch up to 12 miles across. Although finding more water ice anywhere else in the universe is exciting, it probably doesn’t raise Pluto’s chances for life, the planet is still likely too distant and thus likely too cold to support liquid water or any associated lifeforms. But the findings do shed more light on the surface conditions of this mysterious alien world on the edge of our solar system.

Tags: icePlutoresearchspaceNASAchemistry

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Author: Guest
Posted: 2016-02-06
Water or in this case water ice found on Pluto suggest that this for us essential molecule associated with life is not so uncommon after all
1 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2016-02-06
I think that association between water and life applied to extraterrestrial spaces is misleading, while water is needed there are many more requirements for life to occur Reply


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